Ligue 1 (formerly known as French Division 1 and sometimes referred to as Le Championnat), is the French professional league for association football clubs. It is the country’s primary football competition and serves as the top division of the French football league system. Ligue 1 is one of two divisions making up the Ligue de Football Professionnel, the other being Ligue 2. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with Ligue 2. Seasons run from August to May, with teams playing 38 games each totaling 380 games in the season. Most games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, with a few games played during weekday evenings. Play is regularly suspended the last weekend before Christmas for two weeks before returning in the second week of January. Ligue 1 is one of the top national leagues, currently ranked sixth in Europe behind the Spanish La Liga, English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, the Italian Serie A and the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Ligue 1 was inaugurated on 11 September 1932 under the name National before switching to Division 1 after a year of existence. The name lasted until 2002 before switching to its current name. The current champions are Paris Saint-Germain, who won the third title of their history in the 2012–13 season.
Ligue 1 is generally regarded as competently run, with good planning of fixtures, complete and consistently enforced rules, timely resolution of issues, and adequate escalation procedures of judicial disputes to national or international institutions. The league has faced three significant corruption scandals in its history (Antibes in 1933, Red Star in the 1950s, and Marseille in 1993) and has preserved its reputation every time through swift and appropriately severe punishment of the guilty parties.
This season 2013/2014 when Radamel Falcao the Colombian striker joined AS Monaco from Athletico Madrid and Edinson Cavani the Uruguayan striker joined champion Paris Saint-Germain from Napoli has made this league more entertaining and fascinating to watch !!
7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong faces being stripped of his titles and banned from cycling for life after announcing he will not contest charges levelled by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Lance Armstrong said in a statement that he is “finished with this nonsense” and insisted he is innocent but did not want to spend any further effort clearing his name.
He said: “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough’. For me, that time is now.
“I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999.”
However Armstrong’s achievements are set to be wiped from the record books.
Armstrong, 40, has always denied claims he ever used performance-enhancing drugs during his career and has never failed a test.
But USADA chief executive Travis T. Tygart has said the Texan should face the same proceedings as any other athlete charged with doping offences.
Armstrong, charged by USADA in June, sought a temporary restraining order against the agency’s legal action but that was dismissed in a federal court in Austin, Texas.
His former team-mates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton have both accused Armstrong of doping. Both Landis and Hamilton have also been punished for doping.
Armstrong, who in 2011 retired from cycling for a second time, is the most successful rider in the history of the Tour de France, winning each year from 1999 to 2005.
His story was made all the more remarkable by the fact his triumphs came after beating cancer.
Armstrong claims the USADA investigation “has not been about learning the truth or cleaning up cycling, but about punishing me at all costs”.
“Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witch hunt,” he said.
Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong’s sporting director during his unprecedented run of Tour de France victories, released a short statement through his website.
His statement read: “Today, I’m disappointed for Lance and for cycling in general that things have reached a stage where Lance feels that he has had enough and is no longer willing to participate in USADA’s campaign against him.
“Lance has never withdrawn from a fair fight in his life so his decision today underlines what an unjust process this has been.
“I hope that it will soon be determined that the case that USADA initiated against me should never have gotten as far as it has.
“Due to the sensitive nature of legal proceedings, I have been advised that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this stage.”
Lance Armstrong statement: “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough’. For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.
“I had hoped that a federal court would stop USADA’s charade. Although the court was sympathetic to my concerns and recognised the many improprieties and deficiencies in USADA’s motives, its conduct, and its process, the court ultimately decided that it could not intervene.
“USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. I know who won those seven Tours, my team-mates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours. We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront. There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that. Especially not Travis Tygart.
“Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities. This October, my Foundation will celebrate 15 years of service to cancer survivors and the milestone of raising nearly 500 million US dollars. We have a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause. I will not stop fighting for that mission. Going forward, I am going to devote myself to raising my five beautiful (and energetic) kids, fighting cancer, and attempting to be the fittest 40-year old on the planet.”
After I read & seen all news, I’ve sorted something on this matter of issues.. To all the cynics. I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles. This is a great sporting event & hard work to wins it…! If Lance was guilty, before the cycling competition he will be banned. But Lance keep it up with all dope tests & passed. Now after retiring, Lance was found guilty & been stripped all 7-time medals. Crap news & crap responded..!! USADA totally precious twat..
USAIN BOLT sealed his place in Olympic history when he became only the second man to defend the 100 metres title.
The Jamaican flier clocked a new Games best of 9.63sec to win gold after first picking up the title at Beijing 2008. That was just off the world record of 9.58 he set in Berlin in 2009 — and his second fastest time ever.
Bolt, 25, said: “When it comes to the Championships I run. I always knew I would be OK on that track. “My coach kept telling me to stop worrying about the race. “I was worried about the start. It still wasn’t the best start but I executed it.” His victory was greeted with chants of ‘Usain, Usain’ from the 80,000 packed into the Olympic Stadium. He added: “I could feel the energy. I just knew the atmosphere would be like that out there.”
Only Carl Lewis had previously won two Olympic 100m golds in a row, first in LA in 1984 and then, in effect by default, when Ben Johnson tested positive four years later. Bolt’s fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake took silver after equalling his personal best of 9.75 with American former drug cheat Justin Gatlin third in 9.79. Had former world-record holder Asafa Powell not pulled up injured it would have been the first time in history that all EIGHT men had run under 10 seconds.
1) Size matters …
It’s obvious, sure, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Being 6ft 5in tall allows Usain Bolt to take wider (and thus fewer) steps over a 100m race than his smaller rivals. On Sunday night he took 41 steps to win the Olympic final. Yohan Blake took 46 steps and Justin Gatlin took 42.5 steps.
2) … but it’s also about strength and elasticity too
What makes Bolt special is that he also possesses great strength and flexibility, which allows him to accelerate quickly and maintain a very high top speed. As Dr Ross Tucker of The Science of Sport website explains: “I’ve not seen such an elastic runner before. Bolt’s advantages stem from a superior stretch-shortening cycle function, which allows energy to be stored and used more effectively. We know from research that power output is proportional to the amount of energy that can be stored and released from the muscle-tendon junction during the muscle contraction.”
3) He was injury free
The news that Bolt had a “slightly tight hamstring” in the run-up to the Games led some to speculate whether the Jamaican would be at his best in London. But those close to his camp insist that he was able to put in six weeks of hard training beforehand. That ensured he was back to peak condition for the Games. And a fit Bolt is an almost unstoppable Bolt, providing he gets his start right.
4) He was more chilled than refrigerated Ting soda
Two scenes, six weeks apart, to compare and contrast. First, Bolt at the Jamaican trials: he had his business-face on, looked fretful before the start and failed to pass Blake, who started like a Lamborghini and finished like a tank. Second, Bolt entering the arena before the men’s 100m final on Sunday night: he was smiling while everyone else was stony-faced, down the track in his warmup with the energy of a 70s punk, and then destroyed the rest of the field in the second fastest time in history.
5) Bolt’s start
After the race, Bolt admitted that he was worried about a false start and so “sat on the blocks a bit” while he waited for the gun. His reaction time of 0.165sec, however, was actually faster than Blake (0.179sec) and Gatlin (0.178sec). As usual, Bolt was slower to build up to top speed than his nearest rivals, but his fast reaction time meant that although Gatlin was ahead of him early on, he was always within catching distance. Bolt could keep calm, and let his long legs do the rest.
After a hard-earned summer break Fantasy Premier League, the official fantasy football game of the Premier League, is back.
With just four weeks to go before the start of the new Barclays Premier League campaign, last year’s 2.8m Fantasy players can sign in using last year’s details before reactivating their classic and Head–to-Head leagues.
Extending the invitations to friends and family that missed out on the fun can also join by creating a Premier League account and registering a team.
Fans must select a squad of 15 players from a budget of £100m and then choose a starting 11 each week before Gameweek deadlines.
Gameweek 1 deadline
The Gameweek 1 deadline is 11:30 on Saturday 18th August 2012 so you must ensure your team is registered before then to start scoring from the start of the season.
Remember, you can change your team as many times as you like before the Gameweek 1 deadline but after the deadline you have one free transfer each week with each subsequent transfer costing -4pts.
Players in the game cost between £4m to £13m and last season’s highest scoring players by position are priced as follows: GK Joe Hart (MCI) £7m, DF Evra (MUN) £7m, MF Dempsey (FUL) £9.5m and FW Van Persie (ARS) £13m. You can view all player values at player list.
‘Rate my team’
Once you’ve confirmed your team, why not invite your friends to rate your team via the new ‘Rate my team’ feature that posts your team to your Facebook wall?
There are also bigger and better prizes on offer throughout the season.
The overall winner of Fantasy Premier League 2012/13 and his/her guest will be treated to a seven-night break in the United Kingdom and will experience VIP hospitality at TWO Barclays Premier League matches.
They will also visit a selection of major UK tourist attractions such as the Tower of London, Madame Tussauds and The Beatles Story in Liverpool.
Quarterly and monthly prizes are also available to win and full terms & conditions are available in the game.
If you do miss out on the Gameweek 1 deadline then don’t worry – you can always enter Fantasy Premier League during the season and start scoring from the Gameweek in which you join.
In addition, you can create mini-leagues and invite friends already playing and start the league’s scoring from that point too.
For all users around the world, I recommend you’ll to join this league :
According to legend, the ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles (the Roman Hercules), a son of Zeus. Yet the first Olympic Games for which we still have written records were held in 776 BCE (though it is generally believed that the Games had been going on for many years already). At this Olympic Games, a naked runner, Coroebus (a cook from Elis), won the sole event at the Olympics, the stade – a run of approximately 192 meters (210 yards). This made Coroebus the very first Olympic champion in history.
The ancient Olympic Games grew and continued to be played every four years for nearly 1200 years. In 393 CE, the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences.
Pierre de Coubertin Proposes New Olympic Games
Approximately 1500 years later, a young Frenchmen named Pierre de Coubertin began their revival. Coubertin is now known as le Rénovateur. Coubertin was a French aristocrat born on January 1, 1863. He was only seven years old when France was overrun by the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Some believe that Coubertin attributed the defeat of France not to its military skills but rather to the French soldiers’ lack of vigor.* After examining the education of the German, British, and American children, Coubertin decided that it was exercise, more specifically sports, that made a well-rounded and vigorous person.
Coubertin’s attempt to get France interested in sports was not met with enthusiasm. Still, Coubertin persisted. In 1890, he organized and founded a sports organization, Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA). Two years later, Coubertin first pitched his idea to revive the Olympic Games. At a meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris on November 25, 1892, Coubertin stated,
“Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the future; and the day it is introduced into Europe the cause of Peace will have received a new and strong ally. It inspires me to touch upon another step I now propose and in it I shall ask that the help you have given me hitherto you will extend again, so that together we may attempt to realise [sic], upon a basis suitable to the conditions of our modern life, the splendid and beneficent task of reviving the Olympic Games.”
His speech did not inspire action…..
The Modern Olympic Games Are Founded
Though Coubertin was not the first to propose the revival of the Olympic Games, he was certainly the most well-connected and persistent of those to do so. Two years later, Coubertin organized a meeting with 79 delegates who represented nine countries. He gathered these delegates in an auditorium that was decorated by neoclassical murals and similar additional points of ambiance. At this meeting, Coubertin eloquently spoke of the revival of the Olympic Games. This time, Coubertin aroused interest.
The delegates at the conference voted unanimously for the Olympic Games. The delegates also decided to have Coubertin construct an international committee to organize the Games. This committee became the International Olympic Committee (IOC; Comité Internationale Olympique) and Demetrious Vikelas from Greece was selected to be its first president. Athens was chosen as the location for the revival of the Olympic Games and the planning was begun.
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad, also known informally as London 2012, began in London, United Kingdom, on 27 July and will continue until 12 August 2012. The first event, the group stages in women’s football, began two days earlier on 25 July. Around 10,500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are expected to participate.
Following a bid headed by former Olympic champion Lord Coe and the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, London was selected as the host city on 6 July 2005 during the 117th IOC Session in Singapore, defeating bids from Moscow, New York City, Madrid and Paris. London is the first city to officially host the modern Olympic Games three times, having previously done so in 1908 and in 1948.
Construction in preparation for the Games involved considerable redevelopment, particularly themed towards sustainability. The main focus of this is a new 200-hectare Olympic Park, constructed on a former industrial site at Stratford in the east of London. The Games also make use of venues which were already in place before the bid.
The opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics was held on 27 July 2012 and was called “Isles of Wonder”. Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle was the artistic director for the opening ceremony and the music directors were Rick Smith and Karl Hyde of the electronic music duo Underworld.
The Games were officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II, who was accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It was the second Games opened personally by the Queen; she opened the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Philip opened the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne on her behalf. The Games held in Australia and Canada in 1988, 2000 and 2010 were opened by their countries’ respective Governors General.
A comedic short film starring Daniel Craig as secret agent James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II as herself was screened during the television coverage of the ceremony. Sir Paul McCartney performed the song “Hey Jude” at the end of the ceremony. As per reports, the gala opening ceremony was watched by 27 million UK viewers.
The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics is scheduled to begin on 12 August 2012. The ceremony is planned to include a handover of the Olympic flag by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, to Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of 2016 Summer Olympics. The Spice Girls are rumoured to be reuniting for the first time since 2008 to perform in the closing ceremony.
Copyright 2012 by london2012.com, history1900s.about.com & YouTube
In a scene that does not bring back any memories of the World Cup the Dutch national football team embark on their new mission on EURO 2012. Oranje hopes lifting their second European Cup at the European Championships 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
In comparison: almost 100,000 people in Soccer City saw Holland lose the final of the World Cup against Spain.
Attack may be the best form of defence for Holland after their coach Bert van Marwijk turned to an 18-year-old newcomer, Jetro Willems, to fill the troublesome left-back position. Van Marwijk can call on the leading scorers in the Premier League, Arsenal’s Robin van Persie, and in the Bundesliga, Schalke’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and has a host of star names in midfield, but his defence is seen as a frail unit to put up against Portugal, Germany and Denmark in the group stage.
As well as Willems, who broke into PSV Eindhoven’s first team this season, Van Marwijk included the 21-year-old winger Luciano Narsingh, who helped make Heerenven’s Bas Dost the Dutch league’s top scorer. Willems will help to bolster the back line in front of Maarten Stekelenburg, who will have Swansea’s Michel Vorm and Tim Krul of Newcastle United competing for the goalkeeper’s jersey.
The Dutch went on after the World Cup tournament and started with the full score of 24 points from 8 matches in the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
In between the qualification matches, the team went on a trip to South America for rematches of the World Cup quarter and semi-finals against Brazil and Uruguay. Although the matches ended in draws, coach Bert van Marwijk saw it as “a good test for his players, to prove they were fit to overcome hostile circumstances also”. “It was a very useful experience,” Van Marwijk, “We could even have won these two matches and that is a compliment to the players.”
On 2 September 2011 the Netherlands defeated San Marino 11–0, their biggest ever victory.
On 6 September 2011, the Dutch defeated Finland 2–0, ensuring a place at the Euro 2012. Dutch will go to Euro 2012 to clinch 2nd European Champions crown as well.. GO.. ORANJE..!
Holland squad Goalkeepers: Stekelenburg (Roma), Vorm (Swansea), Krul (Newcastle). Defenders: Boulahrouz (Stuttgart), Heitinga (Everton), Mathijsen (Malaga), Vlaar (Feyenoord), Bouma (PSV Eindhoven), Van der Wiel (Ajax), Willems (PSV Eindhoven). Midfielders: Afellay (Barcelona), Van Bommel (Milan), De Jong (Manchester City), Schaars (Sporting Lisbon), Sneijder (Internazionale), Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Van der Vaart (Tottenham). Forwards: Huntelaar (Schalke), De Jong (FC Twente), Kuyt (Liverpool), Narsingh (Heerenveen), Van Persie (Arsenal), Robben (Bayern Munich)
Copyright 2012 by Dutch.Football.com, SportPulse.net, Uefa.Euro2012.com & YouTube
At an awards ceremony otherwise dominated by Barcelona’s all-conquering team, led by Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola, who received the player and coach of the year awards respectively, Ferguson received the President’s Award from Sepp Blatter.
It is the first time Fifa have formally recognised Ferguson during his time at Old Trafford, a reign that has brought 12 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies.
Blatter said Ferguson’s remarkable tenure at the club was unlikely to be repeated. “Football is all about winning games and titles, and there is nobody better than him,” he said.
“What is extraordinary is that in today’s world, in which coaches are expected to produce instant results or be changed, his longevity is a shining example of what can be achieved through stability, continuity, trust and confidence in one personality.”
Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown offered video tributes to Ferguson, as did José Mourinho and former players Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham.
The United manager, who was also nominated in the coach of the year category alongside Guardiola and Real Madrid manager Mourinho, said the award was a tribute to his club.
“It is an honour to be given this in the twilight of my life and it is very much appreciated. I always feel that no matter the honour I have received, it is recognition for Manchester United, which has always shared my vision.”
On a night when Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic were the only Britain-based players to feature in the Fifa team of the year, Ferguson also praised his players, saying: “I have always been lucky to have players who have shared the vision.”
Ferguson’s career began before Guardiola was a professional player, but he rates the Barcelona manager’s magnificent side as the benchmark against which modern teams should be judged.
He said Guardiola’s side were likely to retain the Champions League, and rated Real Madrid as the main contenders ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal.
Saying he would continue at United as long as he was healthy, Ferguson played down the chances of the Barcelona manager succeeding him. “Why would Pep want to leave Barcelona? I think if I was in his position I would firmly stay where I was.
“The Barcelona team at the moment is by far the best team, and we experienced two years of it.
“Sometimes in football you have to hold your hands up and say ‘they’re better than us’. It’s not a crime and it’s not a weakness or lack of belief in my own team, it’s a statement of fact.
“Barcelona, especially with Lionel Messi in the side, is just an extraordinary team and I can’t see anyone taking the [Champions League] trophy from them. I think Real Madrid are probably the closest to them at this moment in time.” No player receives more attention yet appears less affected than Messi, who received his third consecutive Ballon d’Or with typical modesty, saying he wanted to share the prize with team-mate and fellow nominee Xavi.
“It is a huge pleasure for me, it is the third time I have received this award but this one is very special, because I want to share it with my friend and team-mate Xavi.
“It is the fourth time we have been together at this gala and it is a pleasure to be with you on the pitch, so I share it with you. Let’s see how much more we can do.”
Messi won with 47.88 per cent of a vote among national captains, team managers and journalists. Ronaldo was second with 21.6 per cent, followed by Xavi (9.23 per cent), Andrés Iniesta (6.01), Rooney (2.31) and Luis Suárez (1.48).
Messi and Xavi were among five Barcelona players in the Fifa world team of the year that underlined Spanish dominance of the elite game. Danni Alves, Gerard Piqué and Iniesta were joined by four from Real Madrid in Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Ronaldo and Xavi Alonso. Rooney and Vidic completed the XI.
Barcelona are on their way to Wembley. At the end of Spain’s fourth clasico in 18 days, Catalonia erupted with pleasure at the joyous fact that Barca have reached their third Champions League final in six years.
They won the first two and given that Wembley was the scene of the club’s first European Cup in 1992, and that manager Pep Guardiola was part of that dreamy team assembled by Johan Cruyff, Barcelona will relish London on May 28th.
After last week’s spite-filled first leg in the Bernabeu, this was an altogether calmer encounter. Until afterwards, that is, when Real Madrid players led by Cristiano Ronaldo lined up to re-state Jose Mourinho’s conspiracy theories.
‘Barcelona are a very difficult team to beat because they get outside help,’ said Ronaldo.
‘The difference between the two teams was the referee,” added Xabi Alonso.
Mourinho’s assistant Aitor Karanka also chipped in. ‘Mourinho was right,’ he said. ‘He said that it would be impossible for us to go through. Tonight proved that it was impossible and 100 million people saw it.’
There were other claims long into the night. It felt orchestrated and churlish. This was not a dirty game, it was the first of the season’s five clasicos in which Real did not have a player sent off.
As Madrid moaned, Barca players danced. In a memorable scene just after the final whistle a circle of them tossed Eric Abidal in the air. The Frenchman was diagnosed with a tumor less than two months ago but his recovery has been of near Lazarus proportions. He was introduced by Guardiola as a 90th minute substitute.
These were images Catalans will treasure. The football world will also have breathed a sigh of relief. Although there was enough niggle for there to be six bookings – 5-1 to Real Madrid – referee Franck De Bleeckere kept a lid on the tension by showing restraint.
The players participated too – in the main – and while there was a pitch intruder just after half-time and a flare thrown from Barcelona seats into the travelling fans’ area, Uefa will have a shorter list to deal with than last week.
Whether it was the hullabaloo that met the angst-ridden first leg, or that Real had to chase the match, this was a far better football occasion. There was no ‘kettling’ of the referee.
Barcelona may also point out that the absence of malice in the shape of Mourinho should not be overlooked. Banned from the visitors’ dugout after the raucous first leg, Mourinho failed to get off the Real team bus and was said to be watching on TV in his hotel room. It was a gesture he made at Chelsea during a previous Uefa ban six years ago.
From there Mourinho saw his team play with considerably more adventure and personality than seven days earlier.
Led admirably by Alonso and Ronaldo on the pitch, Real contributed to a match that was open from the first minute. They also had Iker Casillas to thank as Barcelona gradually overcame their historic opponents midway through the first half and threatened to submerge them.
Lionel Messi was suddenly in his element then having been quiet by his noisy standards. Still just 23, the magical Argentine was a driving presence hell-bent on scoring his 53rd goal of the season. Eleven of Real’s 29 Madrid fouls were on Messi.
Casillas thwarted his scoring ambition but one of the many attractions of this Barca side is that they have diamonds everywhere. Andres Iniesta’s art was missing in Madrid last week but when he speared a superb diagonal pass to Pedro in the 54th minute, Barca had their lead.
Pedro, one of those who causes consternation with his occasional acting, controlled the pass equally skilfully and struck it beyond Casillas. Even Mourinho would be prepared to acknowledge this was a ‘clean’ goal in more than one way.
To their credit Real showed character of the sporting sort after that. Needing to score first to put their hosts on edge, Gonzalo Higuain had a ‘goal’ disallowed two minutes into the second half – which provoked Ronaldo’s “outside help” statement. Yet Ronaldo threw himself to the turf in the build-up.
So Pedro’s goal made it 3-0 on aggregate but nine minutes after it, Angel Di Maria, a willing worker all night, smacked the post and Marcelo was there to bounce in the rebound.
With over 25 minutes left a quick second would have changed the atmosphere. But Madrid never really came close to that and Mourinho – and his bosses – will surely reflect that had they displayed the same attacking conviction in their own stadium they could be at Wembley.
Instead it is Barca, probably to face Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson was expected here and he will have seen familiar talents. Guardiola’s side defeated United 2-0 in Rome three years ago and seven of their starting XI from then were on show.
Barcelona await United or Schalke in the Champions League final at Wembley after finishing the job against bitter rivals Real Madrid.
The tie on the night finished 1-1, enough to send Pep Guardiola’s side through 3-1 on aggregate following their first-leg triumph at the Bernabeu.
In a far better advert for Spanish football, there was a controversial moment when Gonzalo Higuain had a goal ruled out for a foul when Cristiano Ronaldo tumbled into Javier Mascherano. Soon afterwards, a wonderful pass by Andres Iniesta split the Real defence and Pedro calmly fired home to ease any nerves for the Catalan giants. But Real made a fight of things with Marcelo levelling after Angel di Maria’s unselfish reaction to his original shot coming back off a post.
Guardiola rejected Madrid’s conspiracy claims once again. He said: ‘It has been a tough 20 days and we have played the richest team in the world many times. The referee may have had an influence but we were very good in the second match.’ Whatever happened to dignity in defeat?
Of the return to Wembley, he happily added: ‘Football’s coming home.’
Barca will compete in the showpiece event on May 28 with the Red Devils looking to set up a repeat of the 2009 final in Rome.
Copyright 2011 by Daily Mail, The Sun & manutd.com
Manchester United and David Beckham continue to lead the Forbes lists of the most valuable teams and highest-paid players.
Arsenal are third behind Real Madrid but Barcelona have slipped one place to fifth, trailing behind German champions Bayern Munich in the renowned American magazine’s rankings which take income, profitability and debt levels into consideration.
England midfielder Beckham continues to dominate the list of highest-paid players thanks to recent endorsement deals with Pepsi and Electronic Arts.
His earnings last year were estimated at 40 million US dollars (£24m), ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (£23m) and Lionel Messi (£19m).
United, meanwhile, are valued at around £1.15billion topping the list for the seventh successive year with the Gunners worth £731million behind Spanish giants Real who are rated at around £911m.
Speculation continues to swirl that the club will be sold in the near future with a Qatari investment group said to be seriously interested, although the owning Glazer family insist they will not sell United, despite recording losses of £104m in the year to June 2010.
Two other Premier League clubs are in the top 10, with champions Chelsea rising from ninth to seventh place replaced by Liverpool who have dropped three slots from sixth as its value collapsed from £500m to £335m in the wake of the enforced sale to John W Henry’s Boston Red Sox ownership group last October in a deal worth £290m.
The Reds missed out on the lucrative Champions League this season which considerably dented their coffers and Kenny Dalglish’s side are unlikely to qualify for next season’s competition.
‘The top soccer teams that can consistently qualify for the big European tournaments are increasing in value in large part because they reaping the benefits of higher broadcasting and sponsorship revenue,’ said Forbes executive editor, Mike Ozania.
In a separate study released Wednesday, Barcelona and Real Madrid were shown to have overtaken the New York Yankees as the best-paid global sports teams.
The review of average first-team pay in 14 of the world’s leading sports leagues showed that was £4.8m at Barcelona and £4.5m at Real Madrid during the 2009-10 season.
Jose Mourinho won the Spanish Cup thanks to a towering extra-time header from Cristiano Ronaldo and then declared: ‘Just keep calling me a trophy-winning coach.’ The Real Madrid boss had been accused by former Barcelona manager Johan Cruyff of being only a ‘titles manager’ and, after winning his first silverware in Spain,he said: ‘A few days ago someone called me “a coach for winning titles and not a coach for playing football”. Well, thanks very much, I like being a coach who wins trophies.’
Mourinho disappeared down the tunnel at the final whistle as his players celebrated the club’s 18th Spanish Cup. ‘The game was over and I went to the dressing room and tried to call my family,’ he said. ‘I rested a bit and let the players enjoy their moment. We were better in the first half and they were better in the second half but we came good at the end.’
The clasico cup final was a gruelling marathon for Madrid, who dominated the first half, lost control of the game in the second, and then won it in the 102nd minute with Ronaldo’s 42nd goal of the season — his first in open play against Barcelona.
The first half was a story of near misses for Ronaldo, played at centre forward and a constant threat with Mesut Ozil supplying the ammunition from midfield. He failed to get contact on to a superb Ozil through-ball and then fired straight at Pinto from the same player’s pass. With the usually faultless Sergi Busquets misplacing passes in midfield, Barca enjoyed none of their usual domination of possession.
An enraged Mourinho left his dug-out to vent his anger when Xabi Alonso took a free-kick short instead of hitting it long to Ronaldo and that summed up the game plan. But though the football was direct it was swift and effective and had Pepe’s header gone in instead of hitting the crossbar at the end of the first half it would given Madrid a deserved lead.
Barcelona were a different side after the break with Messi rejuvenated and Ronaldo looking more isolated. The Argentine’s pass sent Pedro through and the Spain World Cup winner wheeled away to celebrate only for the flag to go up for offside.
Mourinho reacted by replacing the tiring Ozil with Emmanuel Adebayor, who was booked immediately for flattening Javier Mascherano. Casillas then saved brilliantly from Messi, Villa and Iniesta as Madrid hung on. But they had the last chances of normal time with Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria going close and in the first period of extra time they finished the job as Ronaldo finally delivered. In the 90th minute, Pinto denied Angel di Maria with a flying tip over and the final went into extra-time where Ronaldo settled this Clasico.
Mourinho, who claimed his 18th title and has now won a trophy every year since 2003, will hope to get the better of Barca again when they meet in the Champions League semi-final.