Tottenham Hotspur's transfer dealings are like clockwork -- an alarm clock, upon which you have thumped the snooze button a dozen times and which is now beeping only to tell you that you're late for work again. Another summer window deadline day, another cluster of cameras outside the gates at Spurs, poised to capture the last-second drama. Will this new "partnership" with Real Madrid, forged alongside the transfer of Luka Modric, mean the arrival under darkness of Kaka? Will a deal finally be struck with Porto for Joao Moutinho? Is there any money left for Shakhtar Donetsk's Willian? These are the questions reporters, shivering inside their raincoats, will field repeatedly before the midnight chimes bring it all to an end.
Real Madrid's hopes of winning a first Spanish title since 2008 survived a stern test on Saturday, as Jose Mourinho marked his 50th La Liga match as coach with a tense 3-2 victory at third-placed Valencia.
There was one doubt about Andre Villas-Boas when he arrived at Chelsea in the summer. Astonishing as Porto was last season -- it won a treble of Europa League, Portuguese Cup and Portuguese League (in which it dropped only four points) -- it never really faced a test. Sporting is at a low ebb and Benfica looks much stronger this season, while in Europe it faced no side from England, Germany, Italy or France. Of teams from the top five leagues in Europe, Porto met only Sevilla and Villarreal.
Being honest, there isn't much about U.S. soccer that people in England envy, but we do wish we had a similar glut of goalkeeping talent. Over the last 10-15 years the U.S. has produced an extraordinary number of high-class goalkeepers, so many, in fact, that it's begun to spoil Sylvester Stallone's performance in Escape to Victory (because there, of course, half the joke was that he was an American who played football and had to play in goal so he could use his hands).
Already the vultures are hovering. Porto will be back in the Champions League next season, but the problem is that it is unlikely to be this Porto, the side that has dropped just four points in the league all season, and swept all before it in Europe.
There's something that just seems right about the match between Portland, Ore., and soccer. You can see for yourself tonight when the Portland Timbers host their historic first MLS home game (ESPN2, 11 p.m. ET) against the Chicago Fire in what figures to be a festive cauldron in their refurbished downtown stadium.
There's a team in Europe that is still in the hunt to win every competition this season. A club which is dominating its league, ahead of its perennial archrival, which itself is having, statistically at least, a great season. Its numbers, across all competitions, are frighteningly good: Played 40, Won 33, Drawn 4, Lost 3.
Rightly or wrongly, Roy Hodgson's time at Liverpool seems to be coming to an end. Some will argue that he should be given time, and it is of course true that various managerial greats -- Herbert Chapman, Don Revie, Brian Clough, Sir Alex Ferguson -- struggled in their first seasons at clubs with whom they later achieved significant success. But it is also true that Hodgson, much like Sam Allardyce in his brief stint at Newcastle United, seems to have lost the confidence of just about everybody, with even those fans who urge patience unsettled by the functionality of much of Liverpool's football, even against mediocre opposition.
It's no secret that without the top South American players, European soccer's biggest club competition -- the UEFA Champions League -- wouldn't be nearly as entertaining. With the amount of South American talent integrated into the competition in recent years, the quality of play has reached a level never imagined before.
We're halfway through the Champions League group stage, which means it's midterm report-card time for Europe's elite. In this evaluation, though, you don't get a straight grade -- you're on a curve based on how you've performed relative to expectations.
If this summer's transfer window is any indication, we can look forward to one of the most exciting European seasons in decades. With the three most expensive transfers in the history of the game recently made for amounts previously unimaginable, the stakes are higher than ever.
Three English teams clinched the semifinals of the European Champions League this week, representing the Premier League's finest hour since ... well, since last season, when three English teams achieved the same feat. As they did the season before that. Indeed, only a much-fancied Barcelona side can prevent a second all-England final. With Team Limey all cock-a-hoop with jingoistic cockiness, we look back at those quarterfinal second legs, starting with the thriller at Stamford Bridge.
Ordinarily, Manchester United making a trip to Craven Cottage isn't much of a story. Fulham hasn't beaten United at home in league play since 1964. But an unusually high amount of attention is focused on this weekend's encounter.
With the European seasons just about at the halfway mark, there seems to be one overriding theme. Every one of the big boys (except Barcelona) is generally stinking it up. Some more so, some less so, admittedly.
Sorry to drop another U2 reference here, but sometimes we feel stuck in a moment and we can't get out of it. We'll again explain that these rankings aren't about who the top-to-bottom best teams on earth are, since that hardly changes over a season. This is about the shifts in power across the footballing world.