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UEFA Champions League Starts Now: Holders Real To Face Liverpool as Man City And Bayern Set For Another Clash

The reigning UEFA Champions League winners discovered who they will face in Europe’s elite competition this season and now prepare to start group play this week as they attempt to repeat last year’s glory. Having won La Decima in May this year, Real Madrid were handed a tough test against returning five time European winners Liverpool. Manchester City were again left cursing their luck after landing another demanding draw for their group stage matches against 2013 and five timer winner Bayern Munich.

Arsenal on the other hand, were drawn against German outfit and 2013 runners ­up Borussia Dortmund for the third time in four seasons. For the 17th time in a row, Arsenal qualified for Europe’s prime competition after brushing aside

Can the new boy revive Arsenal's CL hopes?

Can the new boy revive Arsenal’s CL hopes?

Besiktas with a 1-­0 aggregate win in the play­off match at the Emirates after finishing fourth in the Premier League last season. The Gunners will also have to navigate past Turkish side Galatasaray and Belgian champions Anderlecht FC. Club Secretary David Miles said the club was looking forward to their tricky trip to German to face Dortmund and he hoped for progress with a top finish in the group.

Another English side, Chelsea’s Mourinho will be the happiest with their Group G draw having been drawn against German side Schalke O4, Sporting Lisbon and Maribor. Chelsea secretary David Bernard revealed that Jose Mourinho was delighted with their group opponents and how happy he was.

For the second time in a row, English Champions Manchester City will face Bayern and CSKA Moscow. Also is the group, which has been touted as the group of death are AS Roma. Despite their 4-­1 aggregate loss to Spanish giants Barcelona last season, City Director of Football Tixki Begiristain admitted they were placed in the toughest group of the tournament this season particularly with the addition of the Italian side Roma. AS Roma could throw a spanner in City and Bayern this season with the Italian second runners ­up not to be underestimated.

Leading Liverpool to glory or catastrophe?

Leading Liverpool to glory or catastrophe?

Liverpool face a challenging trip to the Bernabeu Stadium on 4th November to face a side they beat 1-­0 in 1981 to clinch their third European title in Paris after Alan Kennedy’s goal. The game is bound to prove an exciting one, and if the prospect of an upset isn’t enough to persuade you to get your tickets soon, then a line up of Balotelli, Sterling, and Sturridge facing up against Bale, Ronaldo, and James, surely will. Brendan Rogers was delighted to be back in the competition but was keen to note that Carlo Ancelotti’s side will prove a tough test.

He was also keen to note that the other teams, which include FC Basel and newcomers Bulgarian side Ludogorets, will provide tough matches as well, but he was looking forward to the Real clash at Anfield in October 22nd. Ian Ayre, the club’s Chief Executive, added that it was definitely a tough group, but a fun and challenging test.

On the night of the draw, former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward and current Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo won the UEFA Best Player Award ahead of Bayern’s duo Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer.

Of their group clash with Liverpool, CR7 said it was going to be a nice match though he had never traveled to Anfield with Real. Cristiano also noted that the English side were a difficult team in the group but was hoping for a win in front of the Anfield faithful.

Liverpool came close to winning the Barclays Premier League last season but crumbled in the last few games, finishing just two points behind champions City.

TSG Fantasy EPL August Winner

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EPL fantasy is off and running, and this international break has left many hungry for more. If you aren’t in Oh to have hair like Geoff Cameron, you should be. Mainly because there are prizes. And because there are prizes.

Speaking of which, we have our first winner as the month of August is up. Congratulations to Undisputed Attitude, managed by Sverre Ramberg who has 199 points currently. You’ve won a shirt of your choice from Who Are Ya (the lovely fellows who are sponsoring the league) and you can check out their selection when you click on the image at the top of this post. Shoot us an email at biggerstaff @ theshinguardian dot com or send a message via the TSG Facebook page by 9/16 so we can work out the details of getting you your selection. If you didn’t win, no worries, plenty more months to do so, and some random draw prizes coming too. So get in the league ASAP so you can win too.

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Funny, my team didn’t make this list?

 

USA-Czech Republic: Live Commentary

"Luke, I am your father."

‘You need to Czech yourself before you wreck yourself young man.’

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to World Cup 2018 we go. The long road starts today. The youth are here to handle some business. Speaking of handling your business, you can get one of those fresh USMNT home kits for $67 right now, fully customized. Time to handle that business.

Who do you want to see out there in the red, white, and blue today? Green? Hyndman? Brek Shea to see if he is still alive?

Starting line-ups once they come out.

US Roster Announced for Friendly vs Czech Republic 9/3

Jurgen has gone with the youth movement for the USMNT’s friendly against the Czech Republic on Sept. 3 in Prague. Some big opportunities for guys like Garza, Hyndman, Gyau, and Rubin to make moves on a Gold Cup spot next summer.

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The full roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3) : Cody Cropper (Southampton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7) : John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Tim Ream (Bolton)
MIDFIELDERS (7) : Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Brek Shea (Stoke City)
FORWARDS (5) : Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Joe Gyau (Borussia Dortmund II), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich)

The back line is particularly of interest with Cameron likely out with an injury. Could we see a 4-3-3 perhaps with some winger action from the likes of Green, Gyau, and Rubin?

TSG Fantasy EPL Update – August 2014

It’s the moooosssttt wonderful time of the year! The English Premier League has kicked off, and if you are like me, you are swearing at guys who you wouldn’t have been able to identify if you were standing next to them on the subway two weeks ago. Bojan you have to finish there! Guzan you beast, another shutout! Wilfried Bony, do you plan to do anything at all this season besides torture me? Has anyone seen Felipe Luis?

When you pray for wisdom, you aren’t actually hoping that the heavens open up and impart you with knowledge, but that one of your starting defenders doesn’t play so that Andre Wisdom of West Brom comes off your bench with the eight points he earned for a shutout plus bonus. That’s the Wisdom you really want. If you haven’t legitimately debated using your wildcard yet, you must be better than me (not like that is any real challenge) and more confident about your side. Fantasy EPL is just a glorious amount of fun. If that isn’t enough for you, there is always GamblingSites.org in case you fancy yourself a real expert and want to make some money off your EPL knowledge. If that isn’t your cup of tea, but you do love the EPL action, make sure you are in the TSG fantasy EPL league. Top ten in the standings right now:

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That’s right, you too can be a part of Oh to have hair like Geoff Cameron. Nominated as the best looking league on all the internet.

Click here to jump in the league now.  The best part is TSG has partnered up with Ruffneck Scarves and Who Are Ya Designs to give away a prize to the leader of the fantasy league at the end of each month + some random prizes along the way. So get in on it.

EPL Week 3 is sure to be full of surprises, like will Mario Balotelli burn down Anfield? Will Balotelli steal all the allowances of little kids in Liverpool? Will the #MoyesIn hashtag make an exciting appearance? What will happen when Chelsea has to play against a real team? If Lukaku scores will he reveal a shirt that says I AM THE REAL SPECIAL ONE? Will Arsenal play 3 wingers up top instead of getting a forward?  Will Tim Howard’s beard finally get that goal it has been deserving?

Remember me?!

Remember me?!

 

Best of luck to all of you, except for those of you who are ahead of me in the standings. So really, best of luck to almost no one!

A Big Summer for Goalkeepers – Who Will Shine This Season?

2014 has been the year of the goalkeeper. With Tim Howard, Manuel Neuer, Keylor Navas, and Memo Ochoa taking center stage at the World Cup with their memorable performances and multiple teams making big moves for keepers this summer, there has never been a better time to be between the posts and in the spotlight.

Looking good Tim.

Tim Howard’s memorable performance against Belgium launched him from USMNT stud to national hero. 16 saves to keep the US in the match, an absolutely legendary performance from Tim. It’s not often that you becometimhowarddepartd the Secretary of Defense of the United States of America involuntarily, but add that to Tim’s resume. The country is safe in his Nike goalkeeper gloves, this much we do know. Now he’s back with Everton, attempting to lead them to a spot in the top four with his glorious beard and ridiculous reflexes. It’s time for the EPL to experience #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave firsthand.

Another guy attempting to build on a phenomenal World Cup is Keylor Navas, who Real Madrid acquired from Levante after Madrid activated his buyout clause.  Navas led Costa Rica to the quarterfinals at the World Cup, making multiple big saves against Greece in penalties after Costa Rica shocked the world by winning group D.

 

Madrid made multiple big money moves this summer, but the acquisition of Navas could be the most important as goalkeeper has been a position that has given them problems over the last couple years as Iker Casillas has not been playing at the world class level that he used to. Perhaps Navas could lead Madrid to Champions League glory with more amazing saves coming from his Sells keeper gloves?  Time will tell if this is a reality, one thing is for sure, Keylor Navas will be ready for anything shot at him.

Keepers from the La Liga have been in high demand this summer, as Malaga’s Willy Caballero made a move to Manchester City to compete with Joe Hart for the number one spot. City will be a favorite to win the Premier League title again, and Caballero has been brought in to make sure this happens. Overlooked for Argentina’s World Cup squad by Sabella in favor of Sergio Romero, Caballero will be fresh and have a chip on his shoulder as he attempts to show the world why he should have been minding the nets for Argentina this summer in Brazil. Beating out Joe Hart will be no easy task, but Caballero certainly looks up to the task.

Maybe the biggest goalkeeper move of the summer was one where no transfer fee was involved, as Thibaut Courtois returned to Chelsea after three years on loan to Atletico Madrid. Courtois performed quite well at the World Cup as Belgium made the quarterfinals, and upon his return to Chelsea he was immediately put in the spotlight as José Mourinho decided to start him over Petr Cech.

This decision shocked many, as Cech has been the incumbent at Chelsea for multiple years and has performed at an extremely high level. It might be time for the kid to take over though, and Mourinho seems to be thinking that based on Monday’s lineup card. If Courtois slips up, it will be very interesting to see how much faith Mourinho has in him before he hands the reins back over to Cech.

What goalkeeper do you think will make the biggest impact this year? One of the guys we covered, or someone else?

 

The Street Soccer USA Cup Kicks Off Today in San Francisco!

This weekend San Francisco will be the host of the Street Soccer USA Cup at Civic Center Plaza, starting today, Friday the 15th at 12pm, and continuing from 9am to 7pm Saturday August 16th, and Sunday August 17th from 9am to 4pm.

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If you are in the Bay Area this weekend, you should definitely make an appearance to watch this exciting tournament! Three courts have been set up at Civic Center Plaza in the heart of SF in preparation for fast paced and highly entertaining 4v4 Street Soccer tournament on trademark Street Soccer Courts featuring the best amateur soccer players the Bay Area as well as the Street Soccer USA program teams of homeless men and women from 16 US cities. If not, check out Street Soccer USA on Facebook and also on Twitter for the livestream link of the event once it is up and running and for more info! If you are following along on social media, use the hashtags #SSUSACupSF or #IPlayFor to join the conversation.

The Street Soccer USA Cup is a 3-day street soccer tournament that will transform Civic Center into a unique sport festival with music, food trucks and 4v4 street soccer. The tournament has over 30 teams and seating for 7,000 fans to enjoy one of the most beautiful plazas in California. It is a true hands-on opportunity to deeply engage with our organization and be a part of one of the most impactful social movements in our country.

The Street Soccer USA Cup brings together the 20-team league comprised of homeless men and women across the US for three days of competition and camaraderie in which one team will capture the National SSUSA Cup Title. The top 8 players from the male division and the top 8 from the female division selected for achievements off the field in life as well as on the playing field, will go on to represent the US in the 64-national Homeless World Cup, which will be held in Santiago, Chile in October 2014.

All registration fees support Street Soccer USA’s social program that teaches job and life skills to at-risk, homeless and kids living in low-income housing developments. This competition is designed to help Street Soccer USA expand its urban mini pitch construction and Street Soccer programs for at-risk youth across SOMA, Tenderloin and the Western Addition neighborhoods.

If you need more details, check the Facebook event, RSVP, and share with your friends! There’s a strong chance you will see special guest USMNT World Cup team member Chris Wondolowski out there this weekend as well. You can win free San Jose Earthquakes tickets if you post your favorite photo from the event using the hashtag (#SSUSACupSF) and tagging @StreetSoccerUSA on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We’ll RT and the photo with the most likes wins a pair of tickets to a San Jose Earthquakes match courtesy of The Faultline! Check the event on Facebook for more details on this contest.

wondo SSUSA

Best of luck to all the teams and players participating, and hope to see everyone out there!

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