For Manchester City fans, Monday's night's crucial clash with United isn't simply the final battle of a season-long war. It isn't even just about clawing their way back into the race for the Premier League title. Their pain runs far deeper than that. City have lived in the shadow of their rivals for too long and they are desperate to break out into the light. You have to go back to 1991 to find the last time they finished above their rivals, a feat that was spoiled somewhat when United beat Barcelona to lift the now defunct European Cup Winners' Cup.
RIO DE JANEIRO -- I took a wander from my apartment here on Monday and one of the first people I saw was Ronaldinho, sitting enjoying a leisurely beer in a temporary break from the revelries of Carnaval. Seated to his right was another Ronaldinho, doing the same thing. On his left, yet another ...
This is Tottenham's biggest match for almost 50 years: the first leg of a knock-out tie in Europe's biggest cup competition. Gareth Bale definitely won't be playing, Luka Modric is a doubt and Jermaine Jenas is suspended, but Rafael van der Vaart is fit, and Harry Redknapp is sticking steadfastly to the club's principles: "Attacking football is what got us here in the first place," he insists. "We have had a go all through this competition so we will have a right go again at San Siro."
Six weeks can be an eternity in soccer and in politics. On July 20, AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi showed up at the opening of the club's training camp and made one blunder after the other. For a man who is usually such a natural and effective communicator, it was an all-out debacle. Witness his pronouncements:
The World Cup is over and another summer of rampant transfer rumor-mongering is underway in the Premier League. The few clubs with cash are being linked with anybody and everybody -- but what positions should clubs be prioritizing as they hit the shops? Today, clubs M-W; the top half of the table was covered yesterday.
Bad boys. No, we haven't been holed up in Castle Limey watching tepid Will Smith action movies from the mid-1990s. Instead, we've been musing about the bad boys who are the subjects of the two biggest stories that have hit the headlines in the last couple of weeks.
In a month's time comes the lone FIFA date for international fixtures before the end of the European season -- the only time teams preparing for the World Cup have the opportunity to be at full strength, with all their players available.
There's a lesson soccer teaches again and again: Never place too much importance on the results of friendlies. They can be very deceptive, and they're always forgotten once the competitive action gets underway.
The highlight of covering soccer in South America has always been getting an early glimpse at the youngsters destined to become household names. It's like going to the movies and getting a sneak peak at the most anticipated coming attractions.
No one expected Robinho to sign for Manchester City, least of all Robinho himself. The Brazilian scored on his debut against Chelsea at Eastlands, kissing the badge on his shirt in delight as he dashed across the pitch, but if he had got his way he would have been playing for the other side that afternoon.
It's a brand new day here in Rankingsville, and an exciting season awaits us. I fully expect José Mourinho to take Chelsea to the next step at last, Ronaldinho to rebound fully with Barcelona, Robinho finally to become the man with Real Madrid and ...
OK kids, let's get this over with -- we're all looking ahead to the loads of international action this weekend. The bell may be tolling for England as far as qualification for Euro 2008, and Spain and the Netherlands face uphill battles.