worldcup 2010


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Tharanga ton boosts SL

HAMBANTOTA, Aug 16: Upul Tharanga smashed a century to help Sri Lanka post a challenging 286-9 against Australia in the third one-day international on Tuesday. The left-handed opener made 111 for his 12th one-day hundred in the must-win match for Sri Lanka, who are trailing 2-0 in the five-match series. He also completed 4,000 runs during his 139-ball knock, which contained 12 fours.
Sri Lanka were strongly placed at 220-1 after 38 overs but paceman Doug Bollinger (4-42) bagged three wickets in two overs, including those of Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara (49).
The hosts made their best start in the series when Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan (55) put on 139 in the day-night match, watched by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and his Maldivian counterpart Mohamed Nasheed.
Mahela Jayawardene was the other main scorer with a 33-ball 36. The Australian bowlers, who set up their team's comfortable victories in the first two games, initially struggled for wickets as they had to wait for more than 25 overs for the first success.
Bollinger provided the breakthrough when he had Dilshan caught pulling by Michael Hussey before Tharanga and Sangakkara added 81 in 13 overs for the second wicket.
Sangakkara hit a 37-ball 49 before being trapped leg-before by Bollinger, who got his second wicket in the same over when he had Dinesh Chandimal caught by skipper Michael Clarke in the slips. Australia retained the same side.

Ivanovic, Kuznetsova move up

CINCINNATI (OHIO), Aug 16: Philipp Kohlschreiber rallied from a set and a break down then kept calm as Andy Roddick lost his cool to upset the American in the first round of the Cincinnati hardcourt tennis tournament on Monday. Kohlschreiber emerged with a 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-1 victory over the 11th-seeded Roddick, who came into the tournament with a number 15 world ranking that could use a boost in time for the seedings for the US Open.
Instead, Roddick never really recovered after he was docked a point that cost him a break of serve that gave Germany's Kohlschreiber a 2-0 lead in the third set.
Roddick had already been warned by the chair umpire for slamming his racquet to the court after dropping the second set.
He double-faulted in the second game of the third to give Kohlschreiber a break point and smacked a ball into the stands in frustration.
That infraction cost him the point and the game, and after arguing with the umpire he promptly dropped three more games before holding for 5-1.
Kohlschreiber, who said he just tried to stay calm as Roddick continued to complain to the chair umpire at every changeover, served out the match, finishing it off with a service winner and shaking hands with Roddick.
“I think he did the right thing, but it's tough to call,” Kohlschreiber said of the umpire's decision to dock Roddick a point.
“I tried to stay calm. I thought, hopefully he's not playing his best tennis now because he's so pumped.”
Kohlschreiber had done well to rally, and said getting a bead on Roddick's powerful serve made the difference.
“I had no chance in the first set. Finally I started to read his serve. I think that was the whole key for the match,” Kohlschreiber said. “I just tried to hang in. I was in the right spots and I started to return his serve well.”
“For two sets tonight I actually hit the ball well considering,” said Roddick, who suffered an abdominal injury in July and had not played since Wimbledon.
“I probably will wake up tomorrow morning feeling a little bit better about where I'm at than I did when I woke up this morning. I'm not that concerned about New York right now.”
The joint men's and women's event-one of the ATP's elite Masters tournaments for the men-is a tuneup for the US Open, the final Grand Slam of the season that starts in New York on August 29.
With the top eight seeds enjoying first-round byes, Monday saw players jockeying for position in the second round.
Rising US talent Ryan Harrison defeated Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela 6-3, 6-3 to book a second-round match against world number one and top seed Novak Djokovic.
Serbia's Djokovic extended his lead atop the rankings released on Monday after his victory in the Montreal Masters on Sunday-a victory that gave him his ninth title of 2011 and made him the first man to win five elite Masters titles in the same season.
Argentinian veteran David Nalbandian defeated Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-4 to book a second-round clash with world No. 4 Andy Murray.
US wild card Christina McHale defeated Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 to earn a shot at women's top seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
Russian Ekaterina Makarova set up a second-round meeting with second-seeded compatriot Vera Zvonareva with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
Israel's Shahar Peer defeated Wimbledon semi-finalist Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) to set up a second-round clash with third-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Australian qualifier Anastasia Rodionova, ranked 139th in the world, crushed 42nd-ranked Polona Hercog 6-0, 6-0 to set up a meeting with fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova.
Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded 14th and trying to bounce back after a first round exit in Toronto last week, defeated US qualifier Jill Craybas 6-3, 6-4.
Serbia's Ana Ivanovic, a former French Open champion who is seeded 15th, advanced with ease, defeating American Alexa Glatch 6-0, 6-2.

England seek a 4-0 Test whitewash

LONDON, Aug 16: England spinner Graeme Swann says his teammates must not allow their impending ascension to the top spot in the world rankings to go to their heads as they seek to complete a 4-0 Test whitewash of India at The Oval this week. England will be confirmed as the best Test side in the world after the series but Swann believes the team must ensure they complete the job and see off the demoralised tourists.
He said: "It's a nice feeling (to take over the top ranking) - but it's not what we are focusing on.
"We said before the series it didn't matter if we got to number one in the world.
"It's about finishing the series well and that is what we are aiming to do at The Oval
"We want to do ourselves justice in the last game - we did that very well in the Ashes. Having retained them we gave our best performance of the series in Sydney in the last game and we are looking to emulate that here.
"It's the last Test match for a while and it's a good chance for us to sign off on a winning note.
"We have played some exceptional cricket in the last 18-24 months and it would be a shame if we ruined it all by cruising through this game so let's make it a really good five days and see what happens.
Meanwhile, Warwickshire County Cricket Club, which hosted the England-India Test that ended on Saturday with the home side crowned the world's best, has incurred a 29 million pound debt to retain its international status but has no regrets about the “risk”.
A new four-floor stand at the Edgbaston pavilion end that has increased capacity by 25 per cent to 25,000 -- making the ground the second-largest cricket venue in England behind Lord's-should ensure many more international games in Birmingham despite the financial burden.
The significant investment mirrors similar radical steps taken by other English cricket grounds such as Headingley in Leeds and Old Trafford in Manchester, as they stake their futures on remaining as major match hosts.
“A number of us were in a difficult position three years ago when existing staging agreements were coming to an end and there was a real threat that we would not get any more test matches unless we delivered top-class facilities,” Warwickshire's chief executive Colin Povey said.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Ballack brings Bayer back on track

BERLIN, AUG 15: Ex-Germany captain Michael Ballack led Bayer Leverkusen to their first win of the season on Sunday as Czech midfielder Michal Kadlec's late goal sealed a 1-0 win at home to Werder Bremen.
Last season's German league runners-up have had a torrid time of late, throwing away a 3-0 lead at second division Dynamo Dresden two weeks ago in the German Cup to suffer a 4-3 defeat.
They were then beaten 2-0 at Mainz last weekend in the opening weekend of the Bundesliga season.
To add injury to insult, goalkeeper Fabian Giefer - who was filling in for injured Germany shot-stopper Rene Adler - was so badly concussed at Mainz that he suffered a complete memory blank.
Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt was forced to bring in teenage goalkeeper Bernd Leno from VfB Stuttgart as emergency cover, and the 19-year-old stood up to the task before Kadlec's 85th-minute winner gave his side victory.
Ballack skippered Leverkusen for 83 minutes before he was replaced by regular Bayer captain Simon Rolfes who provided the final pass for Kadlec to score two minutes after coming off the bench.
Earlier, newly-promoted Augsburg drew 1-1 at Kaiserslautern to pick up their second draw of the season.
On Saturday, defending champions Borussia Dortmund crashed to a 1-0 defeat at Hoffenheim while Wolfsburg's coach Felix Magath demanded the introduction of video replays to correct referee blunders after his side lost to Bayern Munich.
Hoffenheim poached an early lead when Bosnia striker Sejad Salihovic curled in a free-kick after just nine minutes.
Having beaten Hamburg 3-1 last weekend, Dortmund showed none of the self-assurance which secured that victory despite Jurgen Klopp re-shuffling his attacking midfield with three second-half changes.
Having been shocked at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach last weekend, Bayern picked up their first win as Brazil midfielder Luiz Gustavo scored in the 91st minute at 2009 champions VfL Wolfsburg.
French play-maker Franck Ribery provided the final pass and Gustavo drilled his shot into the top left-hand corner to break Wolves' hearts.
Wolfsburg had the ball in the Munich net in the first half, thanks to a header from former Germany striker Patrick Helmes, but the effort was ruled offside, leading Magath to call for video referees.
“If four referees are not able to assess the situation properly, then it's time for television referees,” fumed Magath after replays showed Helmes was not offside.
Schalke 04 bounced back from last Saturday's defeat at VfB Stuttgart with an impressive 5-1 win at home to Cologne as Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored a hat-trick.
Hanover and Mainz both picked up their second wins of the season.
Hanover - who host Sevilla in a Europa League play-off on Thursday - picked up a 2-1 win at Nuremberg, while Mainz enjoyed a 2-1 win at Freiburg to go top of the table on goal difference.
Hertha Berlin picked up a point in a 2-2 draw at Hamburg
VfB Stuttgart and ten-man Borussia Moenchengladbach shared a point on Saturday evening.
'Gladbach had defender Roel Brouwers sent off for a second yellow card while Belgium defender Filip Daems netted a second-half penalty for the hosts before Stuttgart's Cacau equalised. AFP

Brazil edge out Spain in 'real final'

MEDELLIN (COLOMBIA), AUG 15: Brazil beat Spain in a penalty shootout Sunday in a quarterfinal game viewed as the “real final” between the two best teams in the Under-20 World Cup
In the end it came down to chance with Brazil winning 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw through 90 minutes and a 2-2 stalemate after 30 minutes of extra time. In the other quarterfinal Sunday, France edged Nigeria 3-2 in extra time.
In the semifinals Wednesday, Brazil will face Mexico, and France will play Portugal.
The final is Saturday in Bogota. Brazil has won the title four times and Portugal twice. Mexico and France will be trying to break through for their first.
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui made it clear he thought the better team lost. Spain led in possession, outshot Brazil 26-17 and led in corners 12-5.
“I feel very proud of these kids,” Lopetegui said. “I think overall they were better than Brazil and deserved to advance. Today, the best team in the World Cup is out.”
In truth, there was nothing to choose from.
The two best teams in the field thrilled the crowd with end-to-end soccer, possession passing and counterattacking to keep the other side off balance. Spain came back twice, and Brazil was rock solid to pull through on penalties.
“As we anticipated, it was a very difficult match against a very top team - strong and excellent,” Brazil coach Ney Franco said. “We had great penalty takers and a keeper who made the difference.”
Willian gave Brazil the lead in the 35th, before Rodrigo - who was born in Brazil - equalized for Spain in the 57th. Brazil went ahead with Dudu's goal in extra time, but Spain answered two minutes later thanks to Alvaro Vazquez.
Vazquez is the tournament's leading goal scorer with five.
First to take its kick, Spain fell behind when its first penalty-taker, Jordi Amat, was stopped by a diving Brazil keeper Gabriel. Vazquez also missed Spain's fourth penalty when Gabriel kicked the shot away.
In the meantime, Brazil converted its four from Casemiro, Henrique, Danilo and Dudu.
Mexico is on a roll and will have lots of motivation against Brazil. Mexico's senior team won the regional Gold Cup title in June, defeating the United States 4-2, and added the Under-17 World Cup title in July, beating Uruguay 2-0 in the final at Aztec stadium in Mexico City.
Were it not for the drama of Brazil vs. Spain, France's 3-2 win over Nigeria in extra time would grab more headlines. Nigeria won its first four matches and was seen by many as a match for Brazil or Spain.
France changed that.
Gueida Fofana gave France a 2-1 lead in the 102nd minute. Two minutes later, Alexandre Lacazette scored his second goal of the match to seal the victory. Maduabuchi Ejike scored his second goal in the 111th to give Nigeria hope of a comeback, but the west Africans couldn't score again.
France should have won in regulation, but Nigeria equalized in the final seconds of second-half stoppage time on a header by Ejike. Lacazette gave France the lead in the 50th with his first goal of the match. This is the first time France has reached the semifinals of the Under-20 World Cup.
Nigeria came into the match having won its first four decisions and was the highest scoring team in the tournament. But France managed to slow the Nigerian attack for most of the game, giving up possession but few threatening chances. The elimination is another disappointment for the Nigerians, who have finished second two times-in 1989 and 2005. AP

Fabregas finally joins Barca from Arsenal

MADRID, AUG 15: Cesc Fabregas is finally returning to his boyhood club Barcelona.
The Spaniard's long-awaited transfer from Arsenal finally materialized Sunday when the two clubs announced they had reached a preliminary agreement for the 24-year-old midfielder.
The deal will be completed once Fabregas signs his contract and undergoes a medical exam on Monday, the clubs said.
Spanish media reports put the price of the transfer at around ?40 million ($57 million).
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said the club was reluctant to let Fabregas go.
“However, we understand Cesc's desire to move to his home town club and have now accepted an offer from Barcelona,” the Frenchman said in a statement on Arsenal's website.
Fabregas will return to the club that nurtured him before he joined Arsenal in 2003. He went on to become Arsenal's youngest ever starter only one month later at 16 and was made club captain in November 2008.
“It's been costly, a saga of two years. It's like when a son returns home because we consider him one of us,” Barcelona president Sandro Rossell said.
The 24-year-old playmaker could make his debut Wednesday at the Camp Nou as the Spanish champions welcome Real Madrid for the return leg of their Spanish Supercup series, after a 2-2 draw in Sunday's first leg.
“Tomorrow is the presentation and after that we see,” said Guardiola, who didn't believe relations between the clubs had soured because of the protracted and sometimes awkward negotiations for Fabregas.
“Last year we made an offer and they said no. All the time this situation is happening, it was tough negotiations,” Guardiola said from the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Fellow Barcelona youth team graduate Andres Iniesta said he was happy Fabregas had joined.
“We already know all about him and hopefully he can show everything that he is-a great player,” Iniesta said. “We are happy that he can be here, that he can train and from now on he is one more (of us).”
Barcelona defender Daniel Alves said drawn out transfers were hard on players.
“It's been a very long story and in the end you have a bad time living through those situations. They are uncomfortable situations for a player,” the Brazilian said.
Fabregas announced his desire to move back to Barcelona after the 2009-10 season, but Arsenal refused to sell their most valuable player and Fabregas agreed to stay for one more year.
This offseason has seen a similar storyline play out, with Fabregas again stating his desire to return to Spain, and Arsenal trying to fend off Barcelona's interest.
Fabregas sat out most of Arsenal's preseason campaign, with the club citing an injury worry, and he was not selected for the team's Premier League opener on Saturday - a 0-0 draw at Newcastle.
Fabregas scored 57 goals in 303 appearances and won one league title and an FA Cup with Arsenal. He has played 58 times for the Spanish national team and was part of the squads that won the 2010 World Cup and 2008 European Championship.

Man United survive WBA scare

MANCHESTER, AUG 15: English champions Manchester United opened their title defence with a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday while Chelsea could manage only a draw in new coach Andre Villas-Boas's first Premier League match.
United opened the scoring in the 13th minute, when Wayne Rooney combined well with winger Ashley Young before sending a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner.
The hosts levelled through debutant Shane Long, who made the most of United keeper David De Gea's lack of conviction, before Young masterminded a winner that West Brom defender Steven Reid deflected into his own net in the 81st minute.
United did what none of their main rivals could this weekend after Chelsea drew 0-0 at Stoke City on Sunday and Arsenal and Liverpool also managed only a point apiece in their openers on Saturday.
Alex Ferguson's side struggled away from home last season, picking up just 25 points from a possible 57 on their way to a record 19th title, and started the game in a lively fashion that suggested they were keen to travel better this term.
Their main negative from the match was injuries picked up by centre backs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, who Ferguson said were facing six and two weeks on the sidelines respectively.
Those blows came hours after United said fellow defender Rafael would be out of action for 10 weeks after dislocating his shoulder. .
Encouraged by the inspirational second-half showing in the 3-2 comeback win over Manchester City in last weekend's Community Shield, Ferguson backed his youngsters to deliver on a bigger platform.
Midfielder Tom Cleverley, 22, and 20-year-old striker Danny Welbeck both started, while new signing Young made his United league debut with a blistering performance down the left wing.
He exchanged passes with Rooney for the opener before bursting into the box nine minutes from time to fire in a cross that bounced off Reid to ensure United took the points.
“He was a threat all the time,” manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.
Young's confidence contrasted with goalkeeper De Gea, whose shaky start to his United career continued after his handling of Manchester City's goals last week was widely questioned.
The 20-year-old Spaniard, who arrived at Old Trafford from Atletico Madrid for around 18 million pounds as a replacement for the retired Edwin van der Sar, should have comfortably saved Long's nonchalant effort in the 37th minute.
The gum-chewing Long, who arrived from Championship (second division) side Reading, drove a shot in low across the goal that De Gea allowed to get past him at the far post.
Goalkeeping was also an issue for Chelsea on Sunday, as they were held 0-0 at Stoke City thanks to some excellent saves by Stoke's Asmir Begovic.
Following a muted first half, Chelsea picked up the pace after the break with John Obi Mikel, substitute Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou all testing Begovic's reflexes.
Striker Fernando Torres was behind many of the Chelsea moves, dribbling past defenders with a confidence last seen in his best Liverpool days.
As well as being denied by Begovic's acrobatics, in particular when he tipped Mikel's long-range volley over the bar and Anelka's curling shot against the woodwork, Chelsea were also frustrated that their appeals for penalties were ignored. Manchester City host Swansea City on Monday, seeking to match United's pace. REUTERS

Tough test ahead for Wenger

LONDON, AUG 15: Arsene Wenger admits it is essential for Arsenal to avoid an early Champions League exit against Udinese as the Gunners boss tries to stop his club spiralling out of control.
Wenger has endured a miserable close season which consisted of desperate attempts to persuade Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri to stay and a total failure to sign the top-class players required to revive a squad that has now gone six years without winning a trophy.
In the circumstances, missing out on a place in the group stages of Europe's elite club competition could be disastrous for Wenger.
The French coach has looked increasingly vulnerable over the last 12 months and, while he is unlikely to be sacked on the basis of one result, there can be no doubt his position would be severely weakened if Arsenal have to spend a year playing in the Europa League.
Wenger has never been under such intense pressure and he acknowledges the importance of beating Udinese in the play-off round.
“I would say the draw is difficult but possible. Who would want to play against an Italian opponent? We know we will have to be at our best to qualify,” he said.
“Let's try to be at our best as quickly as we can because it is important for us to go through in the Champions League.”
A relatively solid display in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Newcastle was marred by Gervinho's foolish dismissal for slapping Joey Barton.
The Ivory Coast striker will be available when Udinese visit the Emirates Stadium for the first leg on Tuesday.
But Dutch forward Robin van Persie is suspended after his controversial red card for kicking the ball away in last season's defeat at Barcelona, while Wenger will be absent from the touchline as he serves a ban for “inappropriate language” directed at referee Massimo Busacca in the Nou Camp.
Nasri is also suspended but the French midfielder was unlikely to have featured anyway after he missed the Newcastle match while he tries to force through a move to Manchester City.
The Fabregas saga came to an end late Sunday when a deal was reached to sell the Spaniard to Barcelona for a fee of around £35 million.
With the distraction of Fabregas gone, Wenger can at least focus his attention on players who want to be at the club. Whether those players are good enough to lift the gloom surrounding the Emirates Stadium is another question entirely.
France right-back Bacary Sagna still has faith and he believes the defensive solidity shown at Newcastle proves his team-mates are up for the fight whatever the critics might say.
“I think it was very important to start the season with this kind of game,” Sagna told Arsenal's website. “We were very consistent throughout and I think we were all defensively aware, from the forward players to the back four.
“Even if we had setbacks during the game we fought hard until the end and we have to keep showing that kind of spirit if we want to win things. This is how we want to play all season and it was a good start.”
Udinese finished fourth in Serie A last season but Francesco Guidolin's side are likely to come to London intent on keeping it tight at the back with a view to putting Arsenal under pressure in next week's second leg at the Stadio Friuli.
Guidolin's squad has been weakened by the sales of three key players since last season, with star forward Alexis Sanchez joining Barcelona, while Cristian Zapata moved to Villarreal and Gokhan Inler left for Napoli.
Experienced defender Maurizio Domizzi could be sidelined with a thigh injury on Tuesday and Guidolin will need a dominant display from striker Antonio Di Natale, who has scored 57 goals in the last two seasons.

Villas-Boas backs Blues for EPL title charge

STOKE-ON-TRENT (UK), AUG 15: Andre Villas-Boas insists Chelsea can mount a strong challenge to regain the Premier League title even though his first match in charge ended in a frustrating 0-0 draw at Stoke.
Villas-Boas watched his new team fail to secure an opening day victory for the first time in 12 seasons as Stoke produced a typically obdurate display at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.
Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic denied the visitors with a string of excellent second half saves, while Chelsea were convinced they should have had a 55th minute penalty after Frank Lampard fell in the area after a challenge from Marc Wilson.
A draw was a fair result in what was a predictably bruising battle but Villas-Boas saw enough to convince him that Chelsea's ageing stars are still hungry for silverware.
The former Porto boss took heart from the way the Blues improved in the second half and he believes they are capable of wrestling the title from Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United.
“Last year we finished second. We are here because we want to finish first. Regarding the transfer market, we don't know what we're going to do,” he said.
“Maybe we will, maybe we won't (sign more players). There's plenty of time to make those decisions. The market will get extremely frenetic in the last few weeks. That's the nature of it.
“But yes, winning the league is what we all want. I'd have enjoyed my first game better if I'd have won. I couldn't be pleased with a point but I think it's one of the most difficult grounds to play away from home.
“For our title challenge, I think one point at Stoke is not bad. It's not the greatest start to the Premier League, of course, but we're happy enough that we raised the level of the game in the second half. Now we just have to raise our level again.
“The situation is to win here. It would have been a massive win here, particularly given Arsenal and Liverpool's results.
“A point is not ideal, but not the end of the world in my opinion. It really is a difficult ground to play on. Let's try and build now on what we're doing against Norwich and West Brom.”
Stoke's abrasive style of play has irritated many other Premier League managers and Villas-Boas became the latest to bemoan what he perceived as aggressive tactics.
He added: “They push the boundaries on pushing and grabbing, for sure. It's difficult. You have to keep your eye on the ball, and be aware of certain situations.
“In this case, maybe the referee is in need of some help. I may raise thisday, but it's difficult.
“The point I want to make, when you play in difficult games like this one, is the amount of pushing and grabbing in the box. It's out of this world.
“We had to deal with Stoke's set-plays and were competent enough to avoid the dangers they create from those plays, but I think there's a limit to the pushing and grabbing that makes it impossible. Referees have to pay attention to these kind of details.” AFP

Barca share honours with Real

MADRID, AUG 15: Real Madrid and Barcelona drew 2-2 in the first leg of the Spanish Supercup on Sunday in front of 80,000 fans in Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu as the two bitter rivals kicked off the new season.
Mesut Ozil gave Real a 13th-minute lead before David Villa and Lionel Messi put Barcelona ahead at the break.
The Spanish and European champions then celebrated their interval advantage by announcing that they had finally agreed a deal with Arsenal to end their long-running pursuit of Cesc Fabregas.
But Real took a little shine off the news when Xabi Alonso levelled the tie nine minutes into the second half.
Barcelona boss Josep Guardiola, who remains unbeaten as manager in the Santiago Bernabeu, remained cautious over Wednesday's second leg.
“We hope that with our crowd we will have an advantage,” he said. “I'm satisfied with our efforts tonight, but they were dangerous.
“We have had a limited time together with some players only back training a matter of days. Dani Alves, Abidal and Adriano kept us in it at times so I am especially happy with them.”
Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas was pleased with Madrid's performance.
“We've played well, passed the ball around and we're happy, little by little we're getting there, we'll go to Barcelona to try and win the trophy,” he said.
In the build-up, Guardiola described the game as “a final against our strongest rival”.
That made his starting 11 all the more surprising with Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez, Sergi Busquets and Pedro all on the bench, the first three carrying slight injuries and the latter replaced by new signing Alexis Sanchez.
No summer signing started for Jose Mourinho's Madrid who fielded the same 11 that lost 5-0 to Barcelona in La Liga last season.
This however was a different Madrid.
After eight minutes, a close range Karim Benzema header produced a superb fingertip save from Victor Valdes.
Madrid's efforts were rewarded with the first goal as Ozil cooly slotted home with his right foot after good work on the right from Karim Benzema.
At this stage Madrid were dominating with Barca struggling to produce their usual passing game.
It wasn't until the 35th minute that the Catalans managed their first attack and from nowhere Villa equalised with a curling right foot shot from the left hand edge of the penalty area.
Madrid responded with the better attacking play and Cristiano Ronaldo shot high from wide left on 44 minutes.
It was Barca however who then went ahead.
Messi took advantage of defensive mistakes by Pepe and Sami Khedira to stroke the ball into the net in first-half injury time.
The second-half started slowly until Xabi Alonso equalised on 53 minutes with a low driven shot from just inside the area after Barcelona failed to clear a corner.
Ronaldo tried on a number of occassions to conjure up a winner for Madrid and Messi came close with a free-kick 12 minutes from the end for the Catalan side.
However neither team looked likely to win the game in the final minutes, with both content to keep possession and play down the clock.
Jose Maria Callejon and Fabio Coentrao appeared in the second half to make their Real Madrid debuts while Xavi, Pique and Pedro came of the the bench for Barcelona.
All should find themselves involved at some stage on Wednesday when the first
title of the season will be

Pakistan won't take Zimbabwe lightly

LAHORE, Aug 15: Pakistan cricket captain Misbah-ul-Haq on Monday urged his team's new talent to take advantage of the tour of Zimbabwe to rebuild the crisis-hit national side.
A new-look Pakistan play a two-day practice match in Bulawayo from August 28, then a Test at the same venue from September 1. They also play three one-day internationals and two Twenty20s on the tour.
Misbah will lead Pakistan in all three formats of the game after Shahid Afridi retired when he was dumped as one-day captain two months ago.
Misbah said the new players must take their chances.
“All the new players who have taken the place of the seniors have performed at domestic level and this tour of Zimbabwe will give them a chance to show their ability at an international level,” Misbah told a press conference.
Pakistan have surprisingly rested frontline pacemen Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul, and dropped Tanveer Ahmed. The selectors recalled Sohail Tanveer and Sohail Khan, and included new fast bowlers Junaid Khan and uncapped Aizaz Cheema.
Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, Pakistan's successful bowler in the West Indies on their last tour, is also rested in favour of uncapped leg-spinner Yasir Shah.
“After a long time a number of seniors have left together, so every team comes across such times and then replacements are found by trying out some new players who can play like those seniors,” said Misbah.
Besides Afridi, Pakistan have lost three key players in opener Salman Butt and pacemen Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer-banned this year in a spot-fixing scandal.
The trio face criminal charges in Britain over charges stemming from Pakistan's tour of England last year.
Senior batsman Mohammad Yousuf lost favour with the selectors, while wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal, former captain Shoaib Malik and seasoned leg-spinner Danish Kaneria were left out over fixing suspicions.
Misbah denied Pakistan were not taking Zimbabwe seriously.
“We are not taking any team lightly,” said the 36-year-old.
“If we relax then we are in trouble and by giving chances to youngsters we are not experimenting because all these young players have come into the team on merit.”
Pakistan fly out to Zimbabwe on August 25.
On their return to Test cricket after five years, Zimbabwe beat Bangladesh in the only Test and are 2-0 ahead in the ongoing five-match one-day series.
After Zimbabwe, Pakistan play Sri Lanka in three Tests, five one-dayers and one Twenty20 match in the United Arab Emirates in October and November.

England better equipped than in 2005: Pietersen

BIRMINGHAM , Aug 15: Kevin Pietersen believes the current England team are better equipped to rule the world than the team who defeated the all-conquering Australians in 2005.
England surged to the top of the world rankings on Saturday with a thumping innings and 242 run victory over previous world leaders India in the third test.
“We've got a real good structure in place and great people in place as well, the management and players, there are a lot of mature players,” Pietersen, who made his debut in the 2005 series, told reporters on Sunday.
“You look at the number of games people have played, you look at the number of hundreds we've scored, look at the wickets the boys have started to take.
“We actually look like one of the senior teams in world cricket right now, whereas two, three, four, five years ago there were a couple of players who were experienced but we had a lot of inexperience.
“So I think we've got all departments covered and as long as each individual, including the guys in the squad who aren't playing at the moment, keep striving to get better we'll be okay.”
The team captained by Michael Vaughan in 2005 threatened to climb the rankings after that 2-1 series win but injuries or illness to key players including Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff, Marcus Trescothick, Simon Jones and Ashley Giles wrecked any hope of progress.
Pietersen was full of enthusiasm for the current squad's drive to continually seek to improve. He also said the team's burning ambition was to seal a 4-0 series win when the fourth test starts at the Oval on Thursday.
“It's a target, a huge target because I played against Australia when we did get hammered 5-0 (in 2006-07) and it's a horrible to place to be,” Pietersen added. “So if we can inflict a similar defeat on India it would be amazing for us.”
Coach Andy Flower said the present England team did not compare to the West Indies' side who did not lose a test series from 1980-95 or the Australian team who twice won 16 consecutive tests, from 1999-2001 and then 2005-2007. Andrew Strauss' team have won six consecutive series to date.
“We are a good side there is no doubt about that,” former Zimbabwe batsman Flower said. “(But) I don't think we can compare ourselves to those sides to be quite honest.
“They dominated world cricket for lengthy periods. We have been playing well for a little while now but only for a short time in cricketing history terms. There is no way we can compare ourselves to those sides in my opinion.

Djokovic wins Montreal crown

MONTREAL, Aug 15: Novak Djokovic says a small shoulder niggle which bothered him en route to a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 defeat of Mardy Fish to win the Montreal Masters won't be a problem in next week's final tune-up before the US Open.
The word number one Djokovic, winner of his ninth ATP title this season, admitted he had a small physical worry in Sunday's final.
“Throughout this tournament I carried little problems with the shoulder. But it's okay. Nothing major,” he said.
The Serb confirmed the world number one ranking which he claimed after winning Wimbledon as he beat Fish for the seventh time without a loss.
Djokovic has now won nine titles in 2011 in nine attempts. He stands a phenomenal 53-1 this season, with his only loss coming against Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals.
“It was a close match, for sure,” Djokovic said. “A couple of points, one good return game in the third set, decided the winner.
“But it's a final. You can somehow expect that the players are evenly matched and they both want to win the title badly.
“I knew that I had to fight for it. Up to the last moment, you didn't really know who is going to win, but I believed I could do it. This was a big satisfaction.”
Djokovic becomes the first man to win five Masters 1000 titles in the same season having also claimed trophies at Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome.
The 24-year-old is the first player to win an ATP title in his debut as number one since Pete Sampras in Hong Kong in April 1993.
Djokovic now stands 27-13 in career finals while Fish, winner of the Atlanta title last month, was competing in his third straight final of the pre-US Open summer.
Djokovic blew through the opening set in 38 minutes as he broke the last two Fish serves. But the dangerous American found his range in the second, finally earning a break on his ninth opportunity of the afternoon and taking a 3-2 lead.
That margin was enough to give Fish hope as he levelled the match at a set each.
But Djokovic showed the class that has characterised his season, breaking for a 3-2 lead to love and then producing a love game on serve for a 5-3 margin.
Fish made life tough until the end as he saved three match points from Djokovic errors. With Djokovic firing an unreturnable serve to clinch the victory in front of a crowd sprinkled with flag-waving Serbs.

Ponting powers Australia to win

HAMBANTOTA (SRI LANKA), Aug 15: Ricky Ponting cracked an impressive 90 not out to steer Australia to an easy eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the second one-day international on Sunday.
Ponting hit one six and eight fours in his 106-ball knock and skipper Michael Clarke made an unbeaten 58 as Australia surpassed Sri Lanka's total of 208 with more than 11 overs to spare for a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
The duo had also scored half-centuries in their team's seven-wicket win in the previous match.
Fast bowler Doug Bollinger led Australia's disciplined attack with three wickets to restrict Sri Lanka to a modest total before Ponting and Clarke ensured victory with their 107-run stand.
“It was a fantastic innings from Ricky,” said Clarke.
“The bowlers did a great job. They are executing their plans really well. Full credit to them.”
Clarke, playing his 200th one-day international, hit two sixes and four boundaries in his 67-ball knock.
Ponting also added 94 for the second wicket with in-form opener Shane Watson (43) after the early dismissal of Brad Haddin.
“The game was set up by our bowlers who kept taking wickets,” said former captain Ponting, who was named man of the match.
“I am getting a few runs, so not being captain must be working all right.”
Watson, who became the first batsman to complete 1,000 runs in one-dayers this year, was bowled by paceman Lasith Malinga after hitting one six and four boundaries in his 51-ball knock.
Bollinger was earlier superbly backed by fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee, who bagged two wickets apiece.
“It was not a great day for us,” said Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan.
“We didn't get enough runs. This was a 250 pitch. We have to work things out as a batting unit. Ponting and Clarke batted really well.”
Former captain Kumar Sangakkara top-scored for Sri Lanka with a patient 52, hitting just one six and one four in his 85-ball knock. He added 63 for the fifth wicket with Angelo Mathews (35).
Lower-order batsman Nuwan Kulasekara helped Sri Lanka cross the 200-mark with a brisk 31-ball 34.
Sangakkara fell just when he looked like stepping up the run-rate, caught by Johnson at long-on while attempting a big shot off spinner David Hussey in the 37th over.
Australia gained the upper hand when they reduced Sri Lanka to 77-4, with Lee, Johnson, Bollinger and left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty taking one wicket each.
Dilshan (24), Mahela Jayawardene (17) and Upul Tharanga (13) all got starts, but none could play a big knock. AFP

Sunday, 7 August 2011

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St Helens Saints vs. Huddersfield Giants

Match scheduled:

12-08-2011 from 18:30 until 21:00, England

Week 24 - Engage Super League 2011

A match from round 24 of Super League

XVI: St Helens v Huddersfield at Knowsley Road.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Rugby World Cup and sex violence

Dr McGregor said her organisation and other support networks did not have the funding or resources to get all those people the help they would need.

A rape prevention group fears a nationwide increase in sexual violence during the Rugby World Cup will overwhelm support services.

Kim McGregor, director of Rape Prevention Education, said a combination of thousands of overseas visitors and excess drinking during the cup would inevitably lead to more sexual attacks on women and men.

She expected an influx of victims seeking support and counselling during and after the cup celebrations.

"It's extremely worrying and extremely frustrating. We're concerned for the women. The young women in particular. There will be rapes and sexual assaults in the Auckland area and throughout the country.

"Our frontline services will do their very best for the survivors and their families but I can't imagine that they're going to cope."

Dr McGregor said a 2010 decision to cap ACC-funded counselling at 16 hours for victims of sexual violence without a diagnosed mental injury put her organisation under severe strain.

Many staff had found other jobs and it would be difficult to rehire them for the rugby tournament.

Dr McGregor said more planning and resources were needed to stop rapes and other attacks in wide-open areas such as fan zones.

"We've had years to prepare in time for the Rugby World Cup. We know there will be an increase in sexual assaults during that time. But we have had no increase in funding.

"These young women or men will have to find their own way to the police station."

Emma Castle, manager of the Counselling Services Centre in South Auckland, said her staff were bracing for a "massive increase" in work due to the Rugby World Cup.

The Centre, which provides a 24/7 callout service for sexual assault victims, had already seen a 66 per cent increase in its workload since 2007, she said.

She claimed its funding had not increased since it started providing the callout service in 1995.

However, police spokesman Jon Neilson said statistics did not show an increase in sexual violence after rugby test matches in New Zealand, and that was not expected to change during the Rugby World Cup.

"All our research supports this, based on the evidence in our records from past years. There can be a very small rise in street disorder on occasions, but not always, in the city in which the match is played."

Visitors arriving for the Rugby World Cup would be issued a pamphlet on keeping themselves safe, Mr Neilson said, and officers would be patrolling fan zones and making sure that liquor bans were enforced.

Sex before and during sport

It is perhaps the oldest and most fundamental question in the whole of sport: does sex affect your sporting performance? After exhaustive research, all of it of an academic kind, OSM comes up with some answers.

The question has again been raised, this time with regard to the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Favourites New Zealand have vowed to go without special cuddles for however long they remain in the tournament. The All Blacks have conspired methods to lose each World Cup since 1987, despite being indisputably the best team in the world throughout most of this period. It pains me to admit this being an Australian, but despite brief periods of dominance by the Wallabies and the Springboks, and a very timely peak by England in 2003, the All Blacks are always the team to beat.

So, the latest Kiwi strategy to grab hold of the Cup is to lay off the loving. But is there any scientific basis to this? Does sex really have an effect on your physical sporting performance, or is this a psychological tactic to have the players' minds ready on game day?

It is certainly not a new theory. Before the Olympics in Athens 2004, hundreds of athletes pledged not to indulge, however even more took the opportunity to do the exact opposite. 130,000 condoms and 30,000 packets of lubricant were made available to the athletes, and in Sydney, athletes had a quota of three condoms a day - and this did not meet demand! This is no real surprise if you think about the Olympic village atmosphere - thousands of very fit, attractive, young and confident males and females from all over the world, probably up for anything without a care in the world once their events were over. Perhaps this was something like a massive backpacker hostel where everyone was rich and attractive without the dodgy old local trying to pick up the Contiki tourists.

Do those who do abstain have a performance advantage? Love him or hate him (I think he's great), WBA Super-Middleweight champion Anthony Mundine is one of Australia's best athletes. However, Mundine abstained for 10 weeks before his first world title fight against Sven Ottke, and we know what happened (Mundine was knocked out in the 10th round). I can not find any reports of Ottke abstaining.

One of the more amusing sex/sport anecdotes is the banning of former US 100 m champion and 1992 Olympic Bronze Medallist, Dennis Mitchell for showing high levels of testosterone. He had originally escaped ban within the US after claiming that his high levels were a result of having sex at least four times the night before and drinking five bottles of beer. The IAAF overturned this decision and banned him for 2 years.

There is no conclusive evidence that sex the night before an event can have an effect either way on your physical sporting performance, despite what Rocky Balboa's trainer Mickey said, "Women weaken legs."

"There are two possible ways sex before competition could affect performance," said Ian Shrier, a sports medicine specialist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada to National Geographic.

"First, it could make you tired and weak the next day. This has been disproved. The second way is that it could affect your psychological state of mind. This has not been tested."

There is a common perception that ejaculation draws testosterone from the body. Actually, it seems the reverse may be true, as testosterone levels rise in men during sex. Higher testosterone levels are good for explosive sports such as boxing or 100 m sprinting - perhaps Mitchell was telling the truth, and perhaps Mundine should rethink his strategy.

Most scientists also now think that the actual act of sex does not really tire you out physically - it only burns around 50 calories, depending on how you do it of course. What might be bad for you is if you stay up all night and deprive yourself of sleep, or if it was getting drunk that got you into bed in the first place.

Sex can also be relaxing, but the actual physical relaxation post-sex does not last into the next day. Indeed, perhaps sex with the wrong person could make you more agitated the next day. And whether or not being relaxed is a good thing for sport is another question. Certainly, some elite athletes take caffeine pills before a match, and this caused quite a stir in Australia when the then Wallabies captain George Gregan admitted as much. The effects of "legal drugs" such as caffeine would far outweigh the much milder effects of sex the night before.

I suspect the effect, if there is any, is physiological and differs greatly from athlete to athlete. By locking out partners from their hotel rooms, the All Blacks are creating a very tight team environment which may raise their performance. It is not so much the banning of sex, more the banning of non-team members, from their lives. That said, the partners are permitted to stay in the same hotel, if not the same room, and so there may be much sneaking through hallways at midnight. The strategies concerning partners on team trips varies from team to team, with the Australian cricket team now allowing partners to stay with the players. Different levels of personal autonomy work better for different teams.

There may be some difference here between the sexes. Israeli scientist Alexander Olshanietzky has said that women compete better after orgasm, especially high jumpers and runners. So if you are a female competitor, you can always use the argument on an unwilling partner, "it's for good of the country!"

For what it's worth, I'm no international sportsman, but I found that my cricket performance was always best after having enough coffee to make Alex Watson's effort look tiny (I somehow didn't realise my peculator was making my coffee 6 times the normal strength...). I was a fair shire batsman with a hundred and a couple of fifties under my belt in my late teens before sex - and more to the point, late nights and beer - played any part in my life. Nowadays, I struggle! But sport is a mind game, and as you get older, different factors weigh more heavily in your life, and standing around all day in the Australian sun doesn't quite hold the excitement that it used to! I suspect that all sport is like this. If you think that sex before a game is going to help you, then it will. The physical effects are most likely negligible, but if you are happy and confident, or feel loved by a partner, then you will perform better. This is how much of alternative medicine works. And if you are ensconced in your team environment before the game, as all professional teams are, and going through the physical preparations, then the physical effects of sex the night before are non-existant.

If, however, it made you happy and confident, or cranky and disappointed, that's when the effects might kick in.

The podcast can be found here - included are some very candid opinions from sports-people.

And now you can vote in the poll - let me know what you think.

Who was the first to offer an opinion on the subject? Pliny the Elder, the Roman historian writing in Natural History in AD 77 was probably the first to address this crucial issue. ‘Athletes when sluggish are revitalised by love-making,’ he wrote, ‘and the voice is restored from being gruff and husky.’

Has that been the received wisdom ever since? Not at all. Those eminently sensible Victorians took the opposite view. They believed that a loss of semen caused a corresponding loss of health and vitality.

What about today? It depends who you ask. In 1999, researchers at the University of L’Aquila in Italy proved that testosterone levels in men rise after an increase in sexual activity. ‘So if a sportsman needs to be more aggressive it’s better to have sex,’ said Dr Emmanuele Jannini.

So the Italians are always up for it. What about the British? Typically pragmatic. Nick Fellows, of the British Olympic Medical Centre, told OSM that as far as the centre was concerned there was no official advice on the subject, it was up to the individual. This is consistent with the view of Craig Sharp, the first director of BOMC. He did a study between 1980 and 1983 which found no difference to performance either way, a conclusion which resulted in him being nominated as Man of the Year in Italy in 1983.

But not everyone agrees with the Italians. Certainly not. Take Dr Pompilu Popescu, the Romanian national football team doctor at Euro 2000. He told his squad about the theory involving the ox and the bull. The ox was calm because he had been castrated, whereas the bull was agitated because of the hormones surging around his body. Presumably it was a theory the squad didn’t want taken to its logical conclusions. Is Dr Popescu’s view a common one? It seems to be. Certainly Festus Onigbinde, Nigeria’s coach for this summer’s World Cup, concurred. ‘My players must get themselves prepared spiritually and this can be best achieved through total abstinence from women,’ he said before the tournament. ‘They cannot afford to be distracted at such a critical period because women are agents of distraction.’

And did it work? Not really. Nigeria didn’t qualify for the second round and Onigbinde has since been sacked.

What was their problem? We can’t be sure. Maybe some clue was given by Clemens Westerhof, one of Onigbinde’s predecessors as Nigeria boss. ‘It’s not the sex which tires out young players,’ Westerhof sighed, ‘it’s the staying up all night looking for it.’

And what do the players think? Most of them are up for it, so to speak. Certainly the Brazilian striker Romario is. ‘Good strikers can only score goals when they have had good sex on the night before a match,’ he said. And George Best agreed. ‘I certainly never found it had any effect on my performance,’ he said. ‘Maybe best not the hour before, but the night before makes no odds.’

An hour before? What made him say that? Legend has it that Best was discovered having sex just an hour before Man United’s FA Cup semi-final with Leeds in 1970. And how did he play? Terribly. ‘I had my normal nightmare against Leeds,’ he wrote in his autobiography Blessed. ‘Their players had also got wind of what had gone on in the hotel and Johnny Giles had a go at me on the field about it. I should have made him pay when I had the chance to score the winner but I fell over the ball.’

Do all footballers agree? Not quite all. Arsenal’s Freddie Ljungberg says that having sex the night before a match made his legs feel like concrete. What about other sportsmen, athletes for instance? Again there is a disparity. For Linford Christie sex was a definite no-no. ‘Not having sex makes you more aggressive. You need that aggression,’ he said. But the great Bob Beamon claimed that the only time he had sex immediately before a long jump competition was on the eve of his world record-shattering performance at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The record stood for 23 years.

Does it matter in the more sedate sports, like cricket? Not according to Simon Hughes, the former Middlesex player and now a Channel 4 analyst. ‘I’d say pre-match sex helped more than it hindered,’ he has said. ‘I took six wickets and bowled out Zimbabwe to win a match for Middlesex the night after a dalliance with a Harare hairdresser, and enjoyed similar success during a four-day fling with a Birmingham nurse.’

Which sportsman is most preoccupied with sex? Jackie Stewart, in his heyday, was a contender. The great racing driver certainly sounded eerily like of Swiss Tony from The Fast Show when, in 1972, he described the art of cornering thus: ‘Cornering is like bringing a woman to a climax. Both you and the car must work together. You start to enter the area of excitement at the corner, you set up a pace which is right for the car and after you’ve told it it is coming along with you, you guide it along at a rhythm which has, by now, become natural.’ Steady on Jackie.

And which sportsman is least likely to have sex before the event? Boxers, probably. Rocky Marciano would excuse himself from the marital bed for months before a big bout; while Muhammad Ali, was said to abstain for at least six weeks before a fight. Primo Carnera went further still. Concerned about the effects of lust, the Italian heavyweight used to wrap a rubber band around his penis when he went to bed.

Is it different for women? Well, the Israeli scientist Alexander Olshanietzky has said women compete better after orgasm, especially high jumpers and runners. That didn’t persuade Suzanne Dando, former British Olympic gymnast. ‘I certainly never had sex before performing,’ she said. ‘I was a teenager and a virgin in my prime. I went out with boys but they were always a secondary interest. I was very fearful about getting pregnant. I’d worked too hard to risk it, so I abstained from sex. Personally I feel pretty exhausted after making love.’

What about sex during an event? There isn’t scope for it in most sports, but the experience of snooker star Paul Hunter suggests it can help. Trailing 6-2 to Fergal O’Brien in the final of the 2001 B&H Masters, Hunter retired to the Wembley Plaza Hotel with girlfriend Lindsey Fell. ‘Paul’s manager told me he was under pressure and that I should relax him,’ explained Lindsey. ‘So I stripped down to my lacy g-string and bra. We made love and he didn’t think about the tournament for a second.’ Hunter returned and notched up four centuries in six frames to win the final 10-9.

Sport and Sexuality

Sport, as a social institution, has been identified by numerous scholars and commentators as one of the most sexist and homophobic in the United States. Sport organizations, however, are not immune to the influences of the broader society where attitudes toward homosexuals have changed as a result of gay rights activism and greater representation of homosexuals in popular media. In January of 2008, a conversation designed to engage the NCAA membership of over 1200 institutions on issues related to promoting a supportive environment for lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, and transgender college athletes and athletic department personnel took place in Nashville, Tennessee. This dialogue is reflective of conversations that are occurring among sport governing bodies that set the tone for the experiences of athletes and fans nationwide and those who work in the sport industry. The purpose of this conference is to continue to fuel and extend the dialogue around sport, sexuality, and culture both in the United States and internationally.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011 sign in, Fantasy Football 2011

When it comes to fantasy football, the Detroit Lions aren't known as a team filled with players ranked highly on draft boards. Aside from Calvin Johnson, the Lions haven't had a ton of great players for fantasy football in recent years. That is beginning to change in a big way, though.

Yahoo! Fantasy Football supports SB Nation and pigskin awesomeness. It’s also the #1 Fantasy Football game thanks to dazzling player research, instant stats with free live scoring, iPhone, Android, and iPad apps this season. Plus, new scoring categories for long receptions and rush plays. (Yes!) Sign up at

Going into 2011, the Lions have players at each position that are poised to have big fantasy football seasons. At quarterback, for example, Matthew Stafford should vault himself into the top tier of players at his position if he can stay healthy. In less than three full games last year he completed 59.4 percent of his passes and racked up 535 yards and six touchdowns, so he is expected to put up big numbers if he can play all 16 games.

How the Lions' other potential fantasy football stars on offense perform depends largely on Stafford's health. If he can stay healthy, Calvin Johnson could put up career numbers at wide receiver. After all, he had three different QBs throwing him the ball last season and caught 77 passes for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns in only 15 games. Based on how often they seem to be connecting in practice, a healthy season for Stafford should mean a huge season for Johnson statistically speaking.


Other offensive players that could have big years with a healthy Stafford are tight end Brandon Pettigrew and running back Jahvid Best. Pettigrew was outstanding last year, catching 71 passes for 722 yards and four touchdowns. Like Johnson, he could put up even bigger numbers if he only has to worry about one quarterback throwing him passes all season long. If that happens the passing game should be much smoother, which will not only help Best's receiving numbers, but also hopefully allow him more room to run. In 2010, he had 1,042 total yards and six total touchdowns, and that was on a couple of bad toes. Like the theme of this whole piece, if he can stay healthy he should be a very explosive player that is great for fantasy football.

In addition to all of the players mentioned so far, the Lions also have guys like Mikel Leshoure, Nate Burleson and Titus Young that deserve a look on offense for fantasy football. On defense, the Lions not only deserve a look, but they may be a very popular pick. With so many playmakers on defense hopes are high for this unit in 2011, and when you add in Stefan Logan's return abilities for special teams, I could see the Lions being selected much higher than they have been in the past.

Obviously there are risks involved in picking players whose health is a concern and their potentially high rankings are based on promise rather than definitive results, but fantasy football players should find the Lions to have a very intriguing group of players. Homer or not, when draft day rolls around it will be pretty tough to not consider targeting a few Lions players.

Nexus S Smartphone, Best Buy

Visit Best Buy Mobile's online or offline stores to place your order.

The slab-style smartphone ships with Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread, and features a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen, 1-GHz processor for showing 3D graphics, VGA front-facing and 5-megapixel rear-facing cameras, and support for near-field communication (NFC). And being a "pure" Android experience, it also features the most up-to-date Google mobile apps, including Google Voice.

Best Buy Mobile is offering free Nexus S phones with the activation of a two-year contract on AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile. But act fast—the deal lasts until 1pm Eastern on Wednesday.

PCMag gave the Nexus S 4G different ratings based on the carrier. We gave the $99 Sprint version three out of five stars for "noticeably slower" 4G download speeds, though last week Sprint said it would begin updating the devices to fix these known problems.

Meanwhile PCMag gave the $199.99 Nexus S on T-Mobile four out of five stars ("average consumers can find even-better high-end smartphones," mobile analyst Sascha Segan said).

AT&T only recently began offering the Samsung-manufactured "pure Android experience" for $99 with a two-year contract.

Google launched the Samsung-made Nexus S last December. An unlocked version earned high praise from PCMag columnist John Dvorak. Click on the slideshow below for more angles.

Google Voice in 38 languages

The Google Voice Blog posted sample fee changes. "For example, it's now only $0.10 (or ?0.08) per minute to call mobile phones in the U.K., France or Germany (landlines are $0.02/min), $0.15/minute to call mobile phones in Mexico and $0.02/min to call any phone number in China and India." The post also confirmed, "Calls to the U.S. or Canada placed within those countries will continue to be free at least for the rest of 2011."

Our overlords at Google have now enabled calls through Gmail in 38 languages. Over 150 locations around the world will also see a fee reduction.

If you're not familiar with Google Voice, it's a telecommunications service provided for free for Google account holders. Users get a unique phone number that can be forwarded to several different lines. Other features include voice transcription, call screening and free text messages. It was launched in March 2009.

Google Voice already enables users in the U.S. and Canada to make free calls to land lines or cell phones through Gmail. Now, that coverage is expanding - Google has made a few tweaks to the call rates. International rates are inexpensive by comparison to other telecommunications services.

If you're not familiar with Google Voice, it's a telecommunications service provided for free for Google account holders. Users get a unique phone number that can be forwarded to several different lines. Other features include voice transcription, call screening and free text messages. It was launched in March 2009.

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Today Show, Matt Lauer about her divorce from ex-husband Charlie Sheen

It was turn back the clock day for competing morning talk show summer concerts.

Tiffany and Debbie Gibson performed in Central Park for Good Morning America this morning.

Their competition: Journey, performing on the Plaza for the Today show. Matt Lauer noted that Don't Stop Believin' - which has been on Journey's set list for three decades - was named the No. 1 most-downloaded song of the 20th Century by SoundScan.

On Tuesday's episode of "The Today Show" Denise Richards opened up to Matt Lauer about her divorce from ex-husband Charlie Sheen, saying, "The man I fell in love with is a very compassionate, humble [man] who has a wonderful heart, and the behavior that a lot of us saw in the last six months is not the person...I fell in love with."

Richards, who just adopted a baby girl, was on the show to promote her new book, "The Real Girl Next Door," her first foray into writing, and a book she hopes will help others who are suffering through difficult divorces to realize that, despite enduring the emotional exhaustion of messy divorces and custody battles, there is light at the end of the tunnel:

"I think that a lot of women and men who are going through divorce can relate to my feelings of being angry, scared, and guilty...I want someone who is going through a similarly difficult situation to have hope."

As for her relationship with her ex-husband, set to star in a new sitcom about anger management, today? "We're doing good," she says.

And despite Sheen's public indiscretions over the past year, Richards is hopeful of Sheen's future as well as her own. "I still care very much for him...he's a survivor. If anyone can pull themselves together, it's Charlie."

Journey is the embodiment of the people’s rock band

Band takes fans on Journey back into their memories and those represent a small sampling of instances in which Journey’s music has permeated pop culture beyond its rock moorings. It’s tempting to say that Journey is the Energizer Bunny of bands, except for the fact that Journey was born before that marketing critter (1973, as opposed to 1988) and has lasted longer.

“Journey is the ultimate embodiment of the people’s rock band,” noted Steve Horowitz, who teaches an online course called “Rock and Roll in America” at the University of Iowa. “Except for during the band’s early years as Santana band refugees performing jazz-rock, critics have hated Journey for their slick style.

Journey stands as perhaps the quintessential example of rock by association.

Journey’s music isn’t just part of the soundtrack in the background of your life. Rather it’s pegged to specific events, moments or experiences.

If you’re a “Caddyshack” fan, your mind may Journey back to the scene when Rodney Dangerfield blasts “Any Way You Want It” from his golf bag, interrupting Ted Knight in mid swing. In 2007, “Don’t Stop Believin’” played from a diner’s jukebox as the HBO series “The Sopranos” ended. More recently, “Don’t Stop Believin’” was covered by the cast of “Glee.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Gene Simmons Engaged

In video footage for their reality show 'Gene Simmons Family Jewels', he asks Shannon: "I come with so much luggage, but you're the only friend I've got, you're the only one I've ever loved, you're the only one I love, and the only one I ever will love. I've never said those words to anybody, and I don't ever wanna...

The Kiss bassist – who claims to have slept with over 2,000 women and has for a long time vowed never to marry – popped the question to the actress-and-former-Playboy model, in Belize recently.

"It's hilarious, they used to watch movies where they say I can't live without you but for me it's true."

He then gets down on one lap and says "will you wed me," at which point Shannon is crying.

Gene, 61, and Shannon, 54, have been together for 27 years and have two children, Nicholas, 22, and Sophie, 19.

The 'Rock and Roll All Nite' hitmaker has before made his views on marriage very clear, saying in 2007: "I don't believe man is designed to be married. Marriage means nothing to me. Happiness means everything. All I see in marriage is a lot of desperately unhappy people.

"The problem with marriage is somebody else has a right to say how you lead your life. Not even your mother has that right, and she gave you life itself. Why would you ever give anybody else that right?"

Albert Haynesworth make an impact

While mayhem was expected when the N.F.L. ended its lockout Monday and launched an instant off-season, everyone predicted the frenetic pace of player movement would resemble a swap meet for billionaires. But it would not be proper mayhem unless something really head-slapping happened. Like, say, the Patriots trading for Albert Haynesworth.

The Patriots have seen DL Albert Haynesworth make an impact. Bill Belichick will try to get that kind of production out of him in New England.


By Sean Dougherty, USA TODAY

The Redskins solved their second major locker room conundrum in two days by dealing Haynesworth to the Patriots for a 2013 fifth-round pick Thursday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the development.

Haynesworth set a then-record in 2009 by getting $41 million guaranteed from the Redskins while signing a seven-year, $100 million pact.

After signing the megadeal, Haynesworth said: "You're not going to remember Albert Haynesworth as a bust."

But the former all-pro never produced in Washington and repeatedly clashed with coach Mike Shanahan in 2010 over conditioning and his unhappiness with Washington's newly installed 3-4 defense, which Haynesworth felt minimized his talents. He was ultimately suspended for the final four games.

Redskins DC Jim Haslett told a St. Louis radio station in June, "(Haynesworth) doesn't want to do anything. To me, that's the issue. He's one of those guys you walk in a meeting and you tell him, 'Put down the phone.' The next day you have to tell him to put down the phone. The next day, you tell him to put down the phone."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick also runs a 3-4 in New England -- though NT Vince Wilfork capably handles the middle -- so Haynesworth will likely spend most of his time at end. New England does run enough variations of the alignment to potentially keep him mollified ... not that Belichick is in the business of pandering to his players. However the three-time Super Bowl-winning coach has had success with former NFL malcontents in RB Corey Dillon and WR Randy Moss.

The Haynesworth deal comes a day after the Redskins agreed to trade QB Donovan McNabb to the Vikings.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


BRASILIA, JULY 27: Football
legend Pele on Tuesday
accepted an invitation from
Brazilian President Dilma
Rousseff to act as an honorary
ambassador for the
2014 World Cup.
The 70-year-old Brazilian said
it was an honour that he
could not turn down.
“From the first World Cup
that I played (in 1958) I've
been doing this: I defend and
promote Brazil. It's a very big
responsibility and I could not
turn down the invitation,”
said Pele.
Pele told his compatriots to
show their pride in hosting
the tournament by putting
aside criticism over delays
and the slow pace of preparations
to stage the best
World Cup possible.
Sports Minister Orlando Silva
said that Pele had been a natural
choice because of “all he
had done for sport in Brazil.
He's a man who knows a lot
about the world of football.
He's going to help and represent
Pele won the World Cup
three times - 1958, 1962 and
1970 - and is the top scorer
of all time with 1,281 goals
throughout his career.

AFC election

president Prince Ali Al-Hussein
says the Asian Football
Confederation should waste no
time in electing a new president,
despite pleas from
Mohamed bin Hammam for
members to give him time to
appeal his life ban for bribery.
China's Zhang Jilong has
been interim AFC president
since bin Hammam was suspended
last month. Bin
Hammam, who helped his
native Qatar win the right to
host the 2022World Cup, has
stated he has no intention of
quitting as AFC president and
will appeal his ban to FIFA and
the Court of Arbitration for
The AFC executive committee
will meet Friday and
Jordan's Prince Ali, who has
ruled out standing for the AFC
presidency, said thatwhile bin
Hammam has the right to
appeal, the process of replacing
himshould not be allowed
to drag on.
“Mr. bin Hammam has the
right to appeal and that is his
own personal decision andwe
respect that,”PrinceAli toldThe
Associated Press in an email.
“However, it would be unacceptable
for anyone to try and
drag AFC and Asian football
into any process through irresponsible
action. I certainlywill
not accept that.”
On AFC-headed paper, bin
Hammamwrote toAsianmembers
on Monday urging their
support during his appeal and
anticipated delays before he
can present his case.
PrinceAli's viewwas echoed
by Japan Football Association
president JunjiOgura,whosaid
earlier Tuesday that bin
Hammam “has been banned
for life so I think an election
needs to be held.”
“He doesn't think he has
done anythingwrong and said
he has no intention of quitting
as AFC President and FIFA
executive,” Ogura said, referring
to a letterhe receivedfrom
bin Hammam.
Zhang respondedtotheFIFA
decision at the weekend by
issuing a statement saying it
was a “sad day for the AFC and
Asian football.”
and we also acknowledge former
AFC President Mohamed
bin Hammam's inalienable
right to lodge anappeal against
the decision.”
Requests for interviewswith
Zhang and AFC executive
members have beenrepeatedly
declined by the AFC, which
says the outcome of Friday's
meeting will be announced in
a statement and no members
will be available for comment.
PrinceAli saidhedidn't think
the binHammamaffairwould
damage the reputation of
MiddleEast football,whichwas
on an upswing afterQatarwas
last year awarded the right to
host the 2022World Cup.
“Football in theMiddle East
is advancing step by step and
we all must continue to focus
on developing the game in the
best interest of the players and
the fans,” he said.
“I have great faith inmy colleagues
inwestAsia and across
the continent and I am confident
that wewillwork hand in
hand and in all transparency,”
Prince Ali told the AP by email.
“That is thework ethic thatwe
aspire to. At the same time,we
have to be vigilant and address
Prince Ali said that the ideal
choice for thenextAFCpresident
wouldbe someonewho“runson
a clear platform, who explains
himself and his vision and presents
a program on how he sees
the future of AFC, rather than
running on a political platform
or based on geography.”

Bayern Munich both won penalty shootouts

MUNICH, JULY 27: Barcelona and
Bayern Munich both won
penalty shootouts to advance
to the final of the Audi Cup, a
warm-uptournament ahead of
the European season.
Champions League winner
Barcelona beat Internacional
Porto Algeria 4-2 on penalties
after a 2-2 draw on Tuesday.
Bayern beat AC Milan 5-3
after a 1-1 drawin 90minutes.
Extra time was not played.
The final isWednesday.
Barcelona played without
Lionel Messi and many other
regulars but still led twice
before theBrazilianside rallied
both times.
Thiago Alcantara scored in
the 14th for Barcelona and
Jonathandos Santos addedthe
second in the 63rd.Nei scored
for Internacional in the 56th
and LeandroDamiao notched
the late equalizer inthe 85th to
send the match into the
shootout - only to miss a key
penalty for theBrazilians.Pinto
then converted to seal
Barcelona's win.
Bayern fell behind to a
fourth-minute goal by Zlatan
Ibrahimovic beforeToniKroos
equalized in the 34th.
AlbertoPaloschi senthis spot
kick high and Bastian
Schweinsteiger converted his
to send Bayern to the final.
Robinho played in the second
half for Milan and
AlexandrePato came onlate in
the game.
Bayern was without Franck
Ribery because of an ankle
injury and Arjen Robben hobbled
off in the second half.
Coach JuppHeynckes said the
Dutchwinger had a bruise and
should be back after a couple
of days.
Bayern's Dutch playmaker
Robbenis injuredandwillmiss
his club's first fixture of the
upcoming season onAugust 1.
Robben had to be replaced
in the 63rdminute of Bayern's
friendly game againstACMilan
on Tuesday after suffering a
knock to his thigh.
"Ihope it'snothing serious,"
said Bayern coach Jupp
The injuryhas ruledhimout
ofMonday's first roundcuptie.
Meanwhile, following speculation
over Bastian
Schweinsteiger's possible
departure, Bayern Munich
coach Jupp Heynckes has
n recent weeks, rumours
have emerged claiming that
Milan is keen on the Germany
international. However, the
playerhas yet to indicate interest
inleaving, andwithhis contract
set to expire in 2016,
Bayern has no need to sell.
The coach did suggest, however,
that the 26-year-old has
declined over the last 12
“Bastian Schweinsteiger is
heldinhighregardat this club,”
Heynckes saidaccording toSky.
“A year ago he was playing on
the same level as players such
as Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
“He is not for sale.”
The coach also weighed
in on Arturo Vidal's
recent transfer from
Bayer Leverkusen to
Juventus. Although
he was not pleased
with the Chilean's
decision not to join
Bayern, Heynckes
wished the player
well in his future
“I am absolutely
disappointed because
Arturo told me he wanted
to joinme at BayernMunich,”
he said.
After allegedly committing
to join Bayern either this summer
or the next, Vidal opted
instead to move to Juve. The
engaged in a war of the words
asof late,butHeynckes appears
to have extended an olive
branch with his latest comments.