Lazio find value in Simone Inzaghi and transfers to rise by different route | Paolo Bandini

The club’s canny acquisitions and the manager’s brand of football where his side refuse to let up even after an opponent’s will has been broken lift them to third place Lazio won at San Siro on Sunday. An impressive feat at any time but all the more so on this occasion because they weren’t playing there. It was their neighbours, Roma, who had travelled to face Inter but a 1-1 draw between those teams was as good as a victory for the Biancocelesti, who took advantage of dropped points to climb into joint third. They had done their part by thrashing Chievo 5-1 in the afternoon. So much for the theory that the winter break might cost Lazio momentum. This was the fourth time in 20 games they had hit five or more goals in a match – including a 5-2 win over Spal immediately before Serie A’s one-weekend Continue reading "Lazio find value in Simone Inzaghi and transfers to rise by different route | Paolo Bandini"

Jérémy Toulalan leaves Bordeaux in support of his sacked manager

Loyalty is rare in modern football but no one seems to have told erstwhile Bordeaux captain Jérémy Toulalan By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News No one was shocked when Bordeaux decided to sack Jocelyn Gourvennec this week after a run of two wins in 15 games. However, Jérémy Toulalan’s request to have his contract terminated and the club’s decision to appoint Gus Poyet as Gourvennec’s successor came as big surprises. What was a disastrous season for one of France’s grand old clubs has now ventured into the unknown. Disappointed and frustrated at his manager’s removal, Toulalan asked to “end his Bordeaux adventure,” as a club statement put it, five months before his contract was up. “I was not surprised by his request,” admitted club president Stéphane Martin. “When the results began to decline, he told me to tie his personal fate to that of Jocelyn.” Continue reading...

Girona blazing trail in La Liga to leave them feeling like they belong | Sid Lowe

Pablo Machín and his players have transformed the club and, with it, the town. This never used to be a football place focused on its own team. It is now It took Lionel Messi two seconds to work out what was going on, Pablo Maffeo says, and not very much longer for him to say sorry; he was just doing what he’d been told to do. It was September, FC Barcelona’s first ever visit to Montilivi in primera, and it wasn’t a whole lot of fun for either of them. Everywhere Messi went, Maffeo went too. There was no getting rid of him, so Messi wandered about, mostly staying out the way, and struck up conversation. He asked how old he was – 20 – and whether he’d come from Man City – yes, he had – until eventually the Girona wing-back was withdrawn. As Maffeo sat on the Continue reading "Girona blazing trail in La Liga to leave them feeling like they belong | Sid Lowe"

Cologne on the trail of greatest escape after forcing Hamburg’s hand | Andy Brassell

Saturday’s win at their fellow strugglers sparked the sacking of Markus Gisdol and raised hopes of an unlikely escape Already, it threatens to be the story of the season. FC Köln were dead, buried and we were just waiting for the post-mortem. Following the worst start to a Bundesliga season in the competition’s near-55-year history – no wins and three draws in the first 16 games, which finished off one of the club’s greatest coaches ever, Peter Stöger – the patient hasn’t just woken up. They’ve put their best clothes on, left the hospital and gone out clubbing. Saturday’s vital win at fellow strugglers Hamburg, who Effzeh are now only three points behind, was their third in a row since breaking their season duck and has put Stefan Ruthenbeck’s side on the trail of what would be the greatest escape of them all, certainly in the history of German top-flight Continue reading "Cologne on the trail of greatest escape after forcing Hamburg’s hand | Andy Brassell"

Gareth Bale given standing ovation as Real Madrid thrash Deportivo

Gareth Bale departed the Santiago Bernabéu to a standing ovation and joked that this time they had applauded him, “instead of a whistle, which is always good”. The Welshman, who has occasionally been the focus of criticism from some supporters and who has been left out of the squad through injury 25 times during his career in Spain, curled in a wonderful goal and headed a second as Real Madrid came from a goal down to defeat Deportivo La Coruña 7-1. Those strikes took him to seven in only seven league starts this season, making him the team’s top scorer. Continue reading...

Real Betis 0-5 Barcelona: La Liga –as it happened

Thanks for joining me. It really was a great pleasure to watch Messi in this type of form, he really was unstoppable tonight. No one will be catching Barcelona this season, it would seem and rightly so, based on this performance.

< p class="block-time published-time"> Once the first goal went in after the break, it was all very easy for Barcelona. Betis gave as good as they got in the first-half but the second was a different story as Messi had one of his better games, which is saying something, leading the way against a team who could not cope with his magical feet. Continue reading...

Red Star: the oldest, hippest and most political football club in Paris

Jules Rimet set up the club 121 years ago and now ex-Manchester United striker David Bellion is giving it fresh life By Mark Godfrey for In Bed With Maradona
The Stade de Paris – or the Stade Bauer as it is more commonly known – sits on an unremarkable street in a small suburb on the northern fringes of Paris. The ground does not dominate its surroundings either in size or importance. If it weren’t for the floodlights peering over the humble main stand, one could be forgiven for walking past and not knowing that a football club of great historical importance ever existed there. Indeed, for most out-of-towners the main draw of the area is the famous flea market just a few blocks away. Saint-Ouen is not one of the capital’s most salubrious neighbourhoods. It’s more urban shabby than shabby chic and is in stark contrast to the area Continue reading "Red Star: the oldest, hippest and most political football club in Paris"