CASUAL culture III


The relationship between football and drugs is only a reflection of a much wider set of issues and relationships concerned with youth culture and drugs. But British football grounds have provided a focus for all the most significant British youth cultures for almost 30 years. 

Northern Soul in the 1970s was borne out of mod culture in the 1960s. 'Wigan Casino 'and 'The Torch' in Stoke on Trent 'Kept the Faith'. The 'faith' was dancing all night on stimulant drugs to soul music. Only the drugs had changed slightly. Supplies of pills diverted from doctors and chemists could no longer satisfy the demand for amphetamines so the back street chemists got busy and started producing amphetamine sulphate powder by the ton. At the same time it was argued that the football violence buzz was fading. It wasn't as much fun. It got boring. It was also getting more and more dangerous. Strict policing meant that you had to do as much damage in as small a time as possible- hence the Stanley knife and CS gas - literally a quick in and out and off! 

And then along came that Smiley Matey Acid House and the boys found a new buzz. Acid House and then Rave came along at just the right time with a pocketful of herbs and chemicals. Before Rave there were only two kinds of clubs. Those where you dressed up in smart clothes, got incredibly drunk to shitty chart music then looked for a casual sexual encounter, a fight and a kebab (not in any particular order 1 might add). The other kinds of clubs were the really trendy ones and they 
wouldn't let you in anyway. 

When Rave began as Acid House there was good music, good drugs and no violence. It was almost welcome change. Ex-casuals started to get into the DJ game and/or organising the drugs and the security for early Acid House parties and Raves. An the Younger lads were sellin the pills on the dancefloors. The Do-it-Yourself attitude of Punk was resurrected. Records could be made in bedrooms. Musical pretence was rejected punk style. just as crusty old rockers complained about the lack of musical ability of the three-chord wonders of Punk, so they became apoplectic about dance music that was made on cheap computers by spotty kinds in anoraks living, not in Los Angeles, but in Stafford with not a guitar in sight. In many ways, Rave is/was much more egalitarian and revolutionary than Punk ever was. 

This was around the time of the final the Manchester guitar bands the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets an james had dominated the listening material of the football 'lads'. But Within weeks 
they' were listening to tapes of 'Italian house' and 'hard core Belgian techno'. Moreover, they were dancing to the same music at 'Rave' nights in local clubs while under the influence of methylenedioxymethamphetamine-MDMA,and 'Ecstacy '(orsimply'E'). By the time of the start of the 90s many of the 'lads' were confirmed 'Ravers'. Although the Happy Mondays et al. still had a place in their cd collection it was for easy listening at home, weekend nights out were reserved for Rave music dished up by a top Dj' in a sweaty club with the blood being chased at break neck speed round your body courtesy of MrT'and his side kick 'Billy Whizz' (amphetamine sulphate). 

There was almost a ceasefire in football violence, the transition of key individuals from hooligan to Raver jumps out at those who really know the football scene. The surrealism referred to earlier now knows no bounds. At Raves around the country' lads' from rival firms, 'found themselves raving underthe same roof on the same drug -'E'. People who six months earlier would have been tearing each other's throats out were now dancing together and pulling 'E' faces at each other. One of many similar stories was a Man United lad describing how he and his mates had gone to a Rave in Yorkshire and he had found himself surrounded on the dance floor by a group of young men dressed in the old style, famous white shirts of the 1960s Leeds United side: 'I was off my face on "E and didn't know or care where I was or who I was and then I noticed these shirts bouncing all around me. For a split second I thought - fuck me! We're in Yorkshire! These are Leeds! This is it! The party stops right here! It's going to go right off now! I looked at one of them and his eyes were in the back of his head he was well on one and out of it. I ended up dancing with them all night - fuckin' mad or what! – Brilliant!!

In summary, something happened, a change came. For a short period football violence uncool and drugs played a major role in bringing this culture shift about. However, if culture and fashion are anything they arefickle and subject to overnight.

Boring Thursday (short view)

Uefa Cup, semi-finals today. In the first game we'll watch two Ukrainian sides (who expected that?). Dynamo Kiev is a leader in domain league with 12 points more than Shakhtyor. After Tottenham, home side eliminated Metalurg and PSG. Boss Yuri Semin have all key players available. Shakhtyor is having a big expansion since Rinat Akhmetov took a charge in club. Thankfully to disaster season start, they lost every chance for Europe competition next year. They surprisingly eliminated CSKA Moscow first, than Olympique Marseille. Mircea Lucescu keeps his keys in domain league and their European games are much different. I don't dare to predict anything here. Bookies fancy under as the odds against the goals are really low. 


In second game, two German clubs will fight for final. In the previous week, they played a national cup game in Hamburg. Werder was a better side after the penalties. In their mutual games, usually hosts have an advantage. Big relief for a home side is Diego has fully recovered and fit. Schaaf and Jol announced formations with one man in attack, Pizarro on one and Olic on other side. Hamburg lost very good striker, Mladen Petric and he'll miss both games, maybe the rest of the season. Considering bookies offer, Werder is a slight favorite and over is expected. Personally, I fancy away side (though their decreasing shape), but I won't support that opinion with a money.


I don't dare to predict anything here, won't force any bet, wasting the time and money, and I'm taking a break. I should do that three days ago. Anyway, I guess there are some football fans between "Football Betting (and More)" readers, so I'll post later the third and the last part about Football casuals and casual culture.


Cheers, Dule.

Thursday's gossip column


Everton are lining up a summer bid for Newcastle striker Michael Owen with the former England star prepared for a cut in his £100,000-a-week wages. (Daily Express) 
Manchester City are in talks with Lisbon's 22-year-old midfielder Miguel Veloso over a £15m move. (The Sun, The Times)
Liverpool are keen on taking on Moroccan striker Mounir El Hamdaoui, while Arsenal also wait in the wings on the AZ Alkmaar star. (The Sun) 
Portsmouth are demanding £16m for England's Glen Johnson, with Liverpool, Tottenham and Aston Villa all interested in the right-back. (Daily Mirror) 
Liverpool are considering a bid to sign Marseille skipper Lorik Cana as back-up for Xabi Alonso, who could be sold in the summer. (Daily Mirror) 
Wolves are eyeing up a £2.5m move for Aston Villa right-back/midfielder Craig Gardner. (Daily Mirror) 
Reading are mulling over a move for Southampton midfielder Andrew Surman. (Daily Mirror) 
Former Birmingham striker Mauro Zarate could be off to a Premier League club if he fails to agree personal terms for a permanent deal with Lazio. (Daily Mirror) 
Coventry are weighing up a £2m move for Scunthorpe striker Gary Hooper. (Daily Star) 


Barcelona are furious with the conduct of Chelsea's players following the 0-0 Champions League draw at the Nou Camp. 
Xavi says: "There was a team that wanted to play and there was a team that didn't." Referee Wolfgang Stark also comes under fire for snubbing a penalty and failing to award cards for bad tackles. "It's an outrage. There were scandalous incidents," Xavi adds. (Various) 
Carlo Ancelotti moved a step closer to being Chelsea boss with AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi admitting he was already searching for a new boss. (Daily Mirror, The Times)
Cardiff and Swansea are in talks with the English FA in a bid to quit the Football Association of Wales. (Daily Mirror, Daily Mail) 
Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce will delay a decision on the future of striker Matt Derbyshire who has been on-loan at Olympiakos since January. (The Times) 
Fiorentina forward Arturo Lupoli wants to stay with Sheffield United when his loan runs out next month. (Daily Star) 
Manchester United keeper Tom Heaton is desperate for a move to Cardiff. "It's hard at United with such top players in my way." (Daily Mirror)
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill thinks Rangers and Celtic players would become "monumental" if their teams were involved in a future two-tier Premier League in England. (Daily Record) 
Manchester City midfielder Elano has declared his desire to stay at Eastlands. (Daily Star)
Plymouth manager Paul Sturrock has denied claims he is set to quit at the end of the season. (Daily Record) 


Midfielder Tugay is set to retire from football with Blackburn unlikely to extend the 38-year-old's contract beyond the end of the season. Blackburn fans have set up a petition on Facebook in recognition of his services. (The Sun)

Ljungskile 0-1 Trollhattan

Derby County between Kildare and FC Trollhättan saw time out to be round only Målløse match, but the newcomer FCT got the last word when Bilgin Aliosman exploited a mistake in the home defense and through goalkeeper Samuel Oji, he made the victory target with only three minutes left to play. This was FC Trollhättan first historic victory in the League. Exallsvenska Ljungskile is still without a victory.

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Champions League and Superettan

It seems I picked another relegating team, as Northampton, after previous night defeat, will have to grab a point in the last round, in Leeds. MK Dons are now very close to number 3 and easier opponent, making a big semi-final game, between "old friends", Leeds and Millwall. 

As I thought, Chelsea killed Barca's performance with fouls and tough challenges. I saw odds for re-match. 2.40 for home win on Stamford?! That will be my bet, definitely. Other game is tonight, I don't think we'll see too much goals, as Utd. will try to secure their net first (as usually do in European games). They're not so big favorites as bookies rated the game. But, for sure, another game to enjoy. My only bet will be on Sweden second league. So...


Ljungskile - Trollhattan

The fourth round in Superettan. This is a local derby, between ex-first league and ex-third league team. LJungskile sold some players, but want to make fast return in Allsvenskan. Didn't make a good start of the season. Two points from three games. Two draws (Sirius and Vasalunds IF) and in last round defeat against possible direct rival for promotion, Atvidabergs (0-2 away). After that game, some rumours said it was a set-up. Important fact is Ljungskile is a draw specialist, six draws from last seven competitive games!

Trollhattan has a debut at this level. Started with two defeats (Mjallby 0-1 home, Syrianska Sodertalje 1-2 away), but in the last round got a first victory against Vasby, 1-0 at home. It is well know promoted teams, in the next season, usually play over their capabilities, but I don't think that is a case here and visitors will be around the relegation line, through the whole season.

Ljungskile has more quality and has to win finally to show the ambition. I think odds for this game (Pinnacle 1.88, Expekt 1.80) are little higher than it should be. Local derby and bad start from the hosts can be the reasons. I don't like to much to bet on Scandinavian football, but poor offer today. And rather this than CL clash. Limited stake, home win.

Wednesday's gossip column


Juventus will make a new bid for Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso after missing out on him last summer. (Various) 
Real Madrid's Dutch winger Rafael van der Vaart has been offered to Chelsea for £8m. (Daily Mirror) 
Tottenham hope to sign 17-year-old Charlton midfielder Jonjo Shelvey for about £3m but face competition from Newcastle and Fulham. (Various) 
Meanwhile, Spurs are giving a trial to 19-year-old Ghanaian full-back Gladson Awako. (The Sun) 
Aston Villa want £5.5m-rated Steau Bucharest defender Dorin Goian. (The Sun) 
Fulham are ready to make a £1m bid for Scunthorpe United's 21-year-old striker Gary Hooper. (Daily Mirror) 
AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti is confident of signing England midfielder David Beckham on a permanent deal from Los Angeles Galaxy. (Various) 
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy says he is interested in signing Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia, who could be available for free at the end of the season. (Daily Star) 
Bristol Rovers striker Richard Walker is lining up a move to Shrewsbury after not getting a new contract. (Daily Star) 
Nottingham Forest are set to open talks with QPR over a £1.5m deal for Loftus Road striker Dexter Blackstock. (Various) 
Blackburn have invited Austrian keeper Lukas Konigshofer for a trial. (The Sun) 
Leicester are chasing 21-year-old Lincoln striker Dany N'Guessan. (Various) 
Former Manchester United keeper Mark Bosnich, 37, has held talks with Swindon. (The Sun) 


Croatia coach Slaven Bilic has emerged as a shock contender to become Chelsea's new boss. (The Sun) 
Liverpool winger Yossi Benayoun will be offered a new deal to keep him from quitting the club in the summer. (The Sun)
Mark Robins is the favourite to take charge at Oldham once Joe Role quits after Saturday's game against Walsall. (The Sun) 

Arsenal's Mexican striker Carlos Vela was ordered to stay away from training on Monday while doctor's carried out tests on him for swine flu. The Gunners were worried after Vela had friends from his homeland visit him at the weekend but the 20-year-old was given the all-clear (Various)

League One

Scunthorpe 3-0 Cheltenham

Scunthorpe eased to victory against already-relegated Cheltenham to move into the last League One play-off spot. 
The Iron, who must avoid defeat against Tranmere on Saturday to confirm their play-off spot, went ahead when Paul Hayes netted from close-range. 
Skipper Cliff Byrne drilled in to double the lead and Henri Lansbury skipped inside and drove in a third. 
The game ended on a sour note when Yuri Berchiche's challenge left Lansbury with a suspected broken leg.


Northampton 0-1 MK Dons

Northampton missed the chance to secure League One safety as they were beaten by play-off bound MK Dons, with Aaron Wilbraham grabbing the only goal. 
The Cobblers now play Leeds on the final day of the season when a point should be enough to beat relegation. 
Milton Keynes went ahead when Wilbraham turned in a cross from Jason Puncheon. 
Northampton applied some late pressure but Luke Guttridge's shot was blocked and Adam Watts had an effort cleared off the line.

Gutless Norwich and the sight on Tuesday

It is simple. You can not win with defending. Especially if you play against tough defence as Reading has. Not a single attempt on target for 90 minutes, I think. I lost my money, they lost Championship and that's it. 

In League One, play-off contender Scunthorpe will host relegated Cheltenham. With three points, host will skip 6th Tranmere. Home side is an absolute favorite, but odds for home win are miserable. I fancy over, but the best you can get is 1.65 at Expekt


In other game, Northampton will seek a point to secure their League One status, as they host MK Dons (who already qualified for play-off). Home side have two wins and a draw from last three games. Looks in a good shape. Will try to finish the job tonight, 'cause at Saturday will travel in Leeds, while rivals have easy games at home. Will be without captain Chris Doig (groin), on-loan defender Jared Hodgkiss is set to come in at right-back, while top scorer Adebayo Akinfenwa should start despite not being 100% fit. 

After four consecutive wins and secured play-off, Dons relaxed and lost at home against Walsall. Their only motive tonight can be to finish 3rd and choose Scunthorpe (Tranmere), instead Leeds (Millwall). Will be missing defender Sean O'Hanlon (knee) and on-loan midfielder Stephen Gleeson (ankle).

Usually, I won't bother myself with this one, but Pinnacle offers 2.62 for a home win and I'll follow with a small bet.


Champions League

Too many talks these days about Barca's superiority. Yes, their team is masterful and it's a real enjoy to watch. But, the fact is in Spain league they always have a space on about 30 metres from opposite goal to accept the ball, look around and make a pass, or do some combination. Don't think Lampard and Essien (followed with others) will allow that. Plus, a duel between Hiddink and Guardiola should give an advantage to visitors. Simply, I don't think any club from any country can play equal with English clubs and see Chelsea as a finalist (Chelsea to pass is about 2.40).  Also, I would like to see Arsene Wenger squad (about 2.30 to pass) as their opponent. Won't bet seriously, just enjoy in footie. But, it is stronger than me to make a sweet, little, gamble combo on "outsiders". Chelsea and Arsenal to pass in final.


That's all for today, lads. Cheers.

Tuesday's gossip column


Manchester City have held talks with Barcelona about signing Samuel Eto'o for a fee of about £40m. The Cameroon international striker has stalled on a new four-year deal at the Camp Nou and Barca could run the risk of losing him for nothing with 14 months left on his current deal. (Various)
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez admits he may have to sell some of his current squad to fund his summer transfer kitty. The Spaniard is eyeing Valencia duo David Silva and Raul Albiol, as well as Aston Villa's Gareth Barry. (Various)
Middlesbrough's record £12m signing Afonso Alves will join Benfica in the summer, even if the Teesiders escape relegation. (Various) 
Tottenham midfielder Didier Zokora says he is ready to quit the club after losing his first-team place. Team-mates David Bentley, Tom Huddlestone, Gareth Bale and Jermaine Jenas also face uncertain futures at White Hart Lane. (Daily Mirror)
Tottenham and Manchester City are among a number of clubs heading the list for Blackburn's Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz. (Guardian) 
AC Milan owner Silvio Burlusconi says he is unsure whether Carlo Ancelotti will be at the San Siro next season, fuelling speculation the Rossoneri coach will join Chelsea in the summer. (Daily Star)
Former Tottenham manager Martin Jol, now in charge of German side Hamburg, is favourite to succeed Jurgen Klinsmann, who was sacked as Bayern Munich manager on Tuesday. (The Times) 
Klinsmann's availability could interest Manchester City should the club decide to sack current manager Mark Hughes. (Daily Mirror) 
Manchester United winger Nani faces an uncertain future at Old Trafford following his second-half substitution in the 5-2 victory over Tottenham. The Portugal international has yet to complete 90 minutes in six Premier League starts this season. (Independent) 
Manchester City defender Richard Dunne has outlined his commitment to stay at Eastlands, despite interest from Sunderland. (Daily Star) 
Birmingham City and Newcastle are set to fight it out over £4m Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra. (The Sun) 

Barcelona striker Thierry Henry insists the Catalan giants are not just about Lionel Messi. ""Players like Xavi and Andres Iniesta are both unique and brilliant players." (Daily Star) 
Barcelona midfielder Xavi says Barca are a better side than the one beaten by Manchester United in last year's Champions League semi-final. (The Sun)
Chelsea right-back Jose Boswinga believes he can contain Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final. (Daily Star) 
Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor says Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic is the toughest defender he has played against. (The Sun)
Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas could face a possible Football Association rap for criticising referee Howard Webb following his penalty decision in Spurs' 5-2 defeat by Manchester United. (Various) 
Sunderland striker David Healy could make his full Sunderland debut against Everton on Saturday, nine months after former boss Roy Keane signed him from Fulham for £1.5m. (Daily Star)
Celtic's title bid has been handed a boost with news that captain Stephen McManus and striker Georgios Samaras will be fit for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off at Pittodrie against Aberdeen. (Daily Record) 
Livingston chairman Angelo Massone has been ordered to attend a meeting with SFL chiefs to explain the escalating crisis at the club. (Daily Record) 
Hampden chief David Kells has leapt to the defence of the Hampden pitch following recent criticism, saying he will not be tearing up the national stadium's turf. (Daily Record)  
Celtic midfielder Marc Crosas has hit out at the standard of Scottish football, saying he feels derby experiences to date have been disappointing. (The Herald) 
Full story Falkirk have asked for a 50-50 ticket split for the Scottish Cup final at Hampden with Rangers in May. (The Herald) 
Celtic could join the English Premier League within ten years, according to the club's majority shareholder Dermot Desmond. (The Star) 


Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor has compared AC Milan to bootylicious singer Beyonce after he admitted nearly quitting the Emirates for the San Siro. "It's like a boy being told Beyonce is looking for them," said the Togo international. (The Sun)

Norwich 0-2 Reading

Shane Long's double kept Reading's faint hopes of automatic promotion alive - while leaving Norwich in deep trouble at the wrong end of the table. 
After a goalless first half, Jimmy Kebe crossed for Long to nod past Canaries keeper David Marshall at the far post. 
And the same pair combined again as Long headed a second from close range. 

It means Plymouth and Nottingham Forest are safe from relegation - with Norwich needing to win and hope Barnsley lose on the final day in order to stay up. 
The Royals, now assured of a play-off place, need to beat Birmingham City at the Madejski Stadium - and hope Sheffield United fail to win - to pip second-placed Birmingham to the second automatic promotion spot.

Norwich nearly fell behind early on when Marshall struggled to deal with a back-pass, and the lively Long charged down his clearance. 
Kebe had an effort blocked by Canaries defender Jason Shackell, while Alan Gow shot just wide for the home side just after the break. 
But Republic of Ireland international Long broke the deadlock with 21 minutes left when Kebe advanced down the left, beat Jon Otsemobor with a stepover and sent over a teasing cross for Long to force in from three yards. 
When Kebe and Long linked up again 10 minutes later, there was no way back for Bryan Gunn's side. 

Norwich manager Bryan Gunn: 
"We have to believe a miracle can happen. We hope Plymouth put on a performance against Barnsley in front of their own fans. 
"We need lady luck to smile on us. But we have to do our own job first and focus on that for four or five days. 
"The spirit was there for all to see but we didn't create too many openings. We have to face up to it but there is still a chance. I will lift the players and get them fresh, fit and focused for what will be a difficult day." 

Reading manager Steve Coppell: 
"It's gratifying for Shane Long to start and deliver. 
"He has been on the periphery for so long that you would expect him to have made the step up by now and he is conscious of that. 
"But it was a real strong performance from him and he did really well for both of his goals." 

Norwich: Marshall, Otsemobor, Shackell (Leijer 79), Doherty, Bertrand, Gow, Clingan, Russell, Carney (Daley 74), Lee, McDonald.
Subs Not Used: Nelson, Cureton, Lappin. 
Booked: Lee. 
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Bikey, Duberry, Harding, Cisse (Matejovsky 62), Karacan, Kebe, Little (Stephen Hunt 41), Kitson (Pearce 89), Long.
Subs Not Used: Federici, Doyle. 
Booked: Rosenior, Cisse, Matejovsky. 
Goals: Long 68, 78. 

Att: 25,041 
Ref: Clive Oliver (Northumberland).

Success! (What about Monday?)

That's what I needed. All three picks passed. Spanish and French sides played attacking games, while exhausted Boca didn't have a chance against motivated Rosario.  Sometimes everything looks so easy. 

Today we'll have three second league clashes. In Germany, Osnabruck and Hansa will fight to avoid relegation. I think Hansa is closer to achieve it, but won't bet. As I won't for French game. Racing Strasbourg against Metz, fourth against the third. For me, the most interesting will be in Championship game. So...


Norwich City - Reading

This is the last chance for Canaries. They're the first under the line, with three points less than Barnsley, four than Nottingham Forest and five then Plymouth Argyle. With three points will be very close to stay in Championship, otherwise will have to beat Charlton away and to hope Barnsley will loose against Plymouth (Norwich has better mutual score with Barnsley). With a point, they'll include Forest into calculation, but Forest will host relegated Saints and they look safe. There is no doubt, this is a game of the season for Norwich who doesn't look in so good shape. Two defeats from last three games. Striker David Mooney, on loan from Reading, is ineligible so Cody McDonald could make his first start. Excellent winger Lee Croft is in doubt (will play, I guess), while defender Dejan Stefanović, midfielder Wes Hoolahan and strikerCarl Cort are long time injured. Full Carrow Road will try to help the lads to reach the golden victory. But the biggest problem will be second half of the pitch where will be one of the best league teams.


With a victory in Birmingham, Preston made a complete mess on the top. Birmingham, Sheff.Utd and Reading are now the contenders for a place number two (80 points, 79 and 74). Royals have a simple calculation. Win tonight and win at Sunday against Birmingham at home (have a better mutual score) and to hope Sheff.Utd. will lose in London against C.Palace. But, beauty of the situation is Reading can loose even a play-off spot, with two possible defeats! Preston is now just three points below (have a better mutual score than Reading) and will host QPR. Too much numbers and solutions, but it is for sure Steve Coppell's lads will go for a win tonight. Considering the names, they're the most quality squad in a league. Not so good run of results, with too many draws put them in this position. But, in the last round they overplayed Derby on the road (2-0), with two goals scored and two cancelled. Big blow is injury of striker Noel Hunt who suffered a fracture to his ankle against Barnsley. Full-back Chris Armstrong returns following his recovery from a knee injury, while striker Kevin Doyle is also set to come back.


Really big game is tonight. Before a Birm.-Pres. game I planned to put my money on Canaries. Now I can't imagine which side has an advantage. Opposite motives, League One against Premier. Biggest fears against biggest ambitions. Full crowd against the quality. No one will be satisfied with a draw. Just a victory gives a faith. I expect another open game and again will bet on goals. Expekt offers 2.oo and I accept. Over.

Sevilla 2-4 Real

An opportunist hat-trick from captain Raul helped Real Madrid to a 4-2 comeback win at Sevilla which cut Barcelona's lead at the top of the Primera Liga standings to four points.

Third-placed Sevilla went ahead in the 17th minute when midfielder Renato nipped in front of his marker to score from close range before Raul turned in a low cross from Christoph Metzelder just before half-time.

The 31-year-old striker hooked in a deflected cross on 63 minutes and pounced on a fumble by Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop to make it 3-1 three minutes later.

Substitute Diego Capel pulled one back with just under 10 minutes left before Marcelo raced clear to score Real's fourth and seal their 16th win in 17 matches since a 2-0 defeat at Barca's Camp Nou in December.


Lille Metropole 1-2 Olympique Marseille

1-0  E. Hazard  49.  min.

1-1 B. Cheyrou  54. min.

1-2 M. Niang  57. min.


Rosario Central 2 - 0 Boca Juniors

1-0 A.R. Danelon  25. min.

2-0  F.I.M. y (pen.)  44. min.

Monday's gossip column


Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is back in the hunt for Lyon's French striker Karim Benzema after being priced out of a move last summer. (Daily Mirror) 
Portsmouth defender Djimi Traore wants to make his loan move to Birmingham City a permanent one at the end of the season. (Daily Mirror)
Charlton have slapped a £3m price tag on teenage midfielder Jonjo Shelvey's head, with a number of Premier League clubs eyeing up a summer move. (The Sun) 
Leeds midfielder Fabian Delph will move to Aston Villa in the summer - if Villa boss Martin O'Neill can persuade Leeds chairman Ken Bates to sell. (The Sun) 


Newcastle manager Alan Shearer says his side's match with Portsmouth is the biggest game of his football career as he targets one of the three wins he believes will save the Magpies from relegation. (Various) 
Portsmouth defender Silvain Distin has conceded he had never heard of Paul Hart and Brian Kidd before they took over the managerial duties at Portsmouth but says the duo have turned the club's season around. (Various)
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has rejected an ambitious bid from Bayern Munich to recruit him as their new manager. (Daily Mail) 
Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia is set to reject the chance to join the club's coaching staff because he wants to prolong his playing career. (Daily Mirror)
Southampton will go out of business in eight days unless they find a buyer. (Various) 
Manchester United midfielder Rodrigo Possebon will snub Brazil to pledge his international future to Italy. (Daily Mail)
A proposed £30million investment in Sheffield Wednesday, headed by former Owls manager Howard Wilkinson, has collapsed. (Daily Mirror) 
Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey believes his boss at Craven Cottage Roy Hodgson should be named manager of the year after taking the Cottagers to within touching distance of a Europa League spot. (Daily Mail) 


Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink has revealed that he regularly plays out matches in his head to test out players and tactics and that he has never lost such a mental match. He has gone over his side's Champions League semi-final with Barcelona twice in his mind already. (Various)

Crvena Zvezda 2-0 Borac

1-0 C.G.C. Cleo 45. min.

2-0 N.Milijas 75. min.



Other two

Lille Metropole - Olympique Marseille  

Lille plays much over the expectations this season. Instead a predicted, middle table place, in one moment they had an opportunity to fight for title! They're in excellent shape at home ground, with eleven wins from 16 games (4 draws and a single defeat). Two games without a win, PSG at home 0-0 and Saint Etienne, 1-2 on the road. With a win tonight, they would be just a point from Champions League place. Three key players have recovered. Lille will start with three players in attack.

After many years and disturbing seasons, Marseille squad has a chance to fight for title. Five league wins in a row. First place, two points more than Bordeaux, four than Lyonnais (already played the game, PSG at home 0-0), six rounds left. Taiwo, Bonnart and Rodriguez are out, while Niang is in doubt.

Both teams have strong attacks. And have to attack. Goals again, with excellent odds. Betfair offers 2.46,  Expekt 2.30. Over.


Rosario Central - Boca Juniors

I've found some very interesting info for this game. Shortly. Rosario is fighting to avoid relegation (the measure is 3 year standings), have a new boss and will go for a win tonight. Boca gave up from Clausura, ten points less than the leaders Velez Sarsfield, nine games left. They played their Copa Libertadores game in Ecuador, Deportivo Cuenca 0-1, at friday. Today have to travel again. Seven players won't play! Including the best, Riquelme, Palermo, Rodrigo Palacio and Sebastian Battaglia. Home side is rested and motivated. Oposite from Boca. The odds are lower than I expected, but think it worths a gamble bet. 10bet offers 3.02, Expekt  and the most of others, 2.50. Home win.

Sevilla - Real

More than disturbing results, yesterday. Looking for a recover. Because, my sundays start around the noon, I've already missed about a half of offer for today. Considering late kick-offs, have some suggestions. So, here we go, first.


Sevilla still holds the third position, but eleven points gap has melted and Valencia is just a point behind (unlucky lost a win in 85. min., -Barcelona 2-2). Hosts have three defeats in a row. First Getafe took three points from home ground (0-1), then two away defeats. Unlucky one on Mestalla against Valencia, 1-3, then disaster on Camp Nou, 0-4. Andres Iniesta scored in third minute and the rest of the game was pure finishing the job by Messi and company. They have to wake up, 'cause giant is coming at Sanchez Pizjuan.Their first meeting (in Madrid) finished sensationally 3-4, with Sevilla's best performance this season. If they can repeat nearly that level of play will be closer to victory. No injury problems, best eleven will play.


Real is 7 points behind Barca. Their calculation is simple. Three points tonight, then beat Barca at Vincente Calderon. That would be just a point less and four rounds before the end. Six wins in a row give them a hope they can reach the title. In the previous round they hosted Getafe and instead routine execution, we had an opportunity to watch a real drama. Getafe was two times in lead, then in 89. min. Casquero missed the penalty kick for 3-2 and probable win (tried to humiliate Casillas). That stupidity punished Higuain in 93th minute (got a nickname San Higuain) for extension of title run. Tonight will face Sevilla who haven't beat in the last seven games on Sanchez Pizjuan. Oposite from tonight's hosts, visitors are in excellent mood and full of confidence. Will be without Pepe, who got 10 games(!) suspension after the savage behavior.


I'm not sure which side is closer to win, but both desperately need three points. That fact guarantee an open game. Both sides have better attack than defence (especially Sevilla). My money goes on goals. Expekt offers 1.80. Over.


Two more little later.

Sunday's gossip column


Liverpool defender Daniel Agger could be on his way out of Anfield after snubbing a new four-year contract worth £10million. (News of the World) 
At least six Middlesbrough players, including Stewart Downing, Gary O'Neill, Afonso Alvez, Tuncay Sanli and Julio Arca, are ready to leave the Riverside Stadium if the club are relegated from the Premier League. (Mail on Sunday)
Tottenham are set to make an £8m summer move for Marseille striker Djibril Cisse, who is currently on loan at Sunderland. (News of the World) 
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp is also hoping to sign Chelsea's teenage midfielder Jack Cork for £2m. (News of the World)


The Football Association has sacked Wembley head groundsman Steve Welch as workmen began installing the seventh playing surface since the £757m stadium reopened two years ago. (Various) 
Liverpool have held talks with the GMR group, billionaire owners of Indian Premier League cricket team Delhi Daredevils, that could lead to huge investment and an eventual buy-out. (News of the World)
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is ready to sell the club for just £120m if they are relegated from the Premier League. (News of the World) 
Steve Coppell will end his 25-year managerial career by leaving Reading at the end of the season, regardless of whether they are promoted to the Premier League. (Mail on Sunday)
Watford manager Brendan Rogers is in line to take over from Coppell if Reading do not win promotion. (News of the World) 
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the era of foreign players dominating the Premier League will soon be over because of the declining value of sterling and the imposition by last week's Budget of a 50% tax rate upon high earners. (Various)
Avram Grant has told friends the Portsmouth manager's position is his to turn down. (News of the World) 
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson will be handed a contract extension and a £750,000 bonus for keeping the club up. (News of the World) 
Roberto Mancini wants to succeed Mark Hughes as manager of Manchester City. (Daily Express) 
Former Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe could be set for a return to the club, with Guernsey businessman Tom Scott, a former associate of Lowe, the front-runner to save the club in a £10m takeover. (Mail on Sunday)
A consortium with substantial financial backing are on the verge of taking over Southampton and want Alan Shearer as manager. (Sunday Express) 
The Football Conference has been sounded out about the possibility of taking in Southampton should the club collapse during the close season. (The Non-League Paper) 
The Italian Ministry of Interior are are considering asking for uniformed British police to patrol the streets of Rome if two English teams reach the Champions League final in May. (News of the World) 

Alan Shearer may be confident that Newcastle can avoid relegation but some fans have detected signs of doom in last week's launch of the home kit for next season - there were no Premier League badges on the shirts in the promotional pictures, in contrast to those unveiled by Arsenal and Manchester City recently. 
That said, players modelling the kit did include Michael Owen, who many think will leave St James' Park whether the club stays up or not. (Mail on Sunday)

Everton 1-2 Man City

Robinho scored one and created another as Manchester City's bid to finish seventh and secure Europa League qualification gathered pace at Everton. 
The Brazilian opened the scoring just after the half hour, latching on to Elano's through ball and clipping in. 
And he then played in Stephen Ireland to wrap up the victory, the midfielder slipping past Tim Howard from 16 yards. 
Dan Gosling swept in a consolation late on, but a bad injury to Phil Jagielka did much to sum up Everton's day. 
It means the Toffees miss the chance to jump up into fifth, with Aston Villa only managing a draw away to Bolton. 
But for City manager Mark Hughes the win will come as a welcome relief, having recently faced questions about his future thanks to his side's Jekyll and Hyde form this campaign.
While 11 victories at home is a record bettered only by local rivals United, one success on their travels before today has ensured Hughes's outfit has yo-yoed around mid-table all campaign.

Everton manager David Moyes:

"We're disappointed but the players have put in a great effort in recent weeks so maybe this was going to be on the cards. There was a bit of fatigue there.

"We've conceded two counter-attacking goals and not defended particularly well - we needed to hang in a bit more at 1-0 and once the second went in we were always going to struggle. "Unfortunately, too, the news is not good on Jagielka. I'd say it's more doubtful than hopeful that he'll play in the Cup final." 

Man City boss Mark Hughes: 
"I thought we were really good value for the win today. There was a real focus to our play, we were dynamic and our determination shone through. 
"Yes, it was possibly a good time to play Everton, but that shouldn't take anything away from our win - we deserved it. 
"To be honest we could, and probably should, have won by more because I thought we were very comfortable. 
"Robinho was excellent today, not just for the goals but his all-round game, and he is really hitting some form for us. He's had some stick this season but his play - and that of Ireland's - was outstanding." 

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Yobo, Jagielka, Baines, Osman, Neville, Castillo (Gosling 60), Pienaar, Fellaini (Cahill 60), Saha (Vaughan 60). 
Subs Not Used: Nash, Lescott, Rodwell, Baxter. 
Booked: Neville. 
Goals: Gosling 90. 

Man City: Given, Richards (Fernandes 57), Onuoha, Dunne, Bridge, De Jong, Kompany, Elano (Evans 88), Ireland, Robinho, Caicedo (Petrov 84). 
Subs Not Used: Hart, Bojinov, Garrido, Berti. 
Booked: Onuoha, Elano, Fernandes. 
Goals: Robinho 35, Ireland 54. 
Att: 37,791 
Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).


West Ham U. 0 - 1 Chelsea

0-1 S. Kalou  55. min.


Barnsley 1 - 1 Wolverhampton W.

1-0 J. Macken  58. min.

1-1 K. Reid  84. min.


Southampton 2 - 2 Burnley

1-0 B. Wright-Phillips  11.min.

1-1 G. Alexander (pen.)  32.min.

2-1 D. McGoldrick  44. min.

2-2 C. Carlisle  67. min

Other picks

West Ham Utd. - Chelsea

Gianfranco Zola did a great job, club is 7th, but in the last five rounds they have a difficult task to save position. A lots of problems with the injuries (especially in attack). Will try to grab another (unexpected) point. With a draw against Everton, The Blues said good bye to title hopes. Guus Hiddink will try to rest his keys for Barca. My bet is against the goals. Bwin offers 1.75. Under.


Barnsley - Wolverhampton

Barnsley fights against relegation. They don't have a win in the last seven rounds. Against demotivated Coventry, they conceded a goal in 94th minute, today desperately need at least another. The problem is they'll face the strongest team in Championship. Wolves secured the title (personally, I'm very glad 'cause that). Their dreams come through and will play without any pressure. I think away side is much closer to victory, but expect from Tykes to finally wake up and show a wish to stay in league. My bet is goals. 10bet offers 2.20, 888 2.05. Very good odds.Over.


Southampton - Burnley

The club's company owner announced a bankrupt and Saints will definitely move to League One. They were defeated in Sheffield against Wednesday, conceding twice after the terrible mistakes of defence line. They still have motive to play, 'cause if they keep the status won't start the next season with -10 points. Burnley is in a great shape, with just one defeat from last eight games. They're still focused, 'cause aren't theoretically in play-off. Will try to make a pressure on young and weak opponent's defence. Odds are dropping from yesterday, but I think it worths a gamble bet. 888 offers 2.10. Away win.

Everton - Manchester City

Everton is in excellent run of results. They stopped Chelsea on Stamford and were even better opponent. Before that, they eliminated Man. Utd. after penalties and passed to FA final where they'll face Chelsea, again. In League, Europe is reached, now they have a chance to skip Villa and grab fifth place. That would be a big success for Goodison Park lads. They have six consecutive home wins in all competitions. I can't see why they wouldn't extend it today. Interesting thing is Moyes rested some players against Chelsea! So, Hibbert, Jagielka, Fellaini and Saha return on the pitch. No new injury worries, best eleven are expected.


What can be said about City. They spent a lots of money on expensive players (usually buying them over the real price), before the season start talk about Champions League(!), but they find themselves stucked in the middle of the table with no real chance to move up (or down). The main reason for that are away games. Five competitive defeats in a row, on the road! Just one win in 16 away games and 10 defeats! It looks the team morale is low, like they really expected C.League and now they have problems with motivation. The best players play way below the expectations, Robinho is just a shadow of R.Madrid player. Craig Bellamy shook the squad, but then injured and won't play again this season. Hughes had a conflict with Richards (today's gossip column), Wright-Phillips and Zabaleta are not fully fit.


Everton is in excellent shape. After brilliant results, players are full of confidence. City looks like they're sick of life, can't wait for season end. Their disaster performances on the road can not be improved today. Home side is a clear favorite and I have no doubt. Expekt, as the most of the bookies offers 1.80. Home win and gamble on handicap. More later...

Saturday's gossip column


Manchester United have held talks with Kaka's representatives over a sensational summer move for the Brazilian AC Milan star. (Sun)
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted for the first time that Argentine striker Carlos Tevez could leave Old Trafford in the summer. (Various)
Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko will return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season because AC Milan will not pay the £9m fee to turn his loan deal permanent. (Sun) 
The Blues are willing to listen to offers for striker Nicolas Anelka at the end of the season and hope to recoup most of the £15m they spent to sign him from Bolton. (Times)
Meanwhile, Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne has emerged as a shock target for Real Madrid.
Middlesbrough will sell Stewart Downing in the summer, with Liverpool the favourites to beat off competition from Totenham to land the £10m-rated England winger. (Daily Mail)
Fulham defenders Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes could leave the club in the summer after rejecting improved contract offers. (Sun) 
Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o has warned off potential suitors by insisting he has no intention of leaving "the best club in the world". (Daily Mail)
Tottenham are preparing a £1m bid for Rangers midfielder Barry Ferguson. (Sun) 

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes was involved in a training-ground bust-up with defender Micah Richards on Friday. (Various) 
Hughes has opened the door for Jo to resurrect his City career after admitting Everton have yet to make a move to complete a permanent transfer for the on-loan striker. (Daily Telegraph)
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney will be offered a new six-year contract this summer that would give the 23-year-old parity with defender Rio Ferdinand and forward Cristiano Ronaldo on £125,000 per week. (Sun) 
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola and his assistant Steve Clarke will sign new four-year deals next week - Zola has agreed a £1.6m- a-year contract, while Clarke will become the Premier League's highest paid number two with a £1m wage packet. (Sun)
Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia admits he could face the sack even if he keeps the Wearside club in the Premier League. (Various) 

One of the first things Nemanja Vidic discovered when he arrived in England three years ago was fish and chips and the Manchester United defender says he intends to celebrate by eating some more if his side brings home any silverware this season. (Sun)

Leicester 2-2 Scunthorpe

Defender Michael Morrison scored twice for League One champions Leicester as they came from behind to draw with play-off chasing Scunthorpe. 
Morrison's fired in his first from close range after following up Steve Howard's blocked header from a corner. 
Paul Hayes slotted in from a Martyn Woolford low cross and Grant McCann scored a penalty after a foul on Hayes to put the visitors in front. 
Jack Hobbs nodded across goal for Morrison to tap in the Foxes equaliser. 

Leicester: Stockdale, Powell (Ajdarevic 63), Morrison, Hobbs, Edworthy (Berner 63), Dyer, Andy King, Oakley, Gradel (Dickov 79), Fryatt, Howard.
Subs Not Used: Mattock, Warner. 
Booked: Howard, Powell, Edworthy. 
Goals: Morrison 16, 77. 

Scunthorpe: Murphy, Wright (Mills 9), Pearce, Mirfin, Byrne, Woolford (Togwell 87), McCann, Trotter, Sparrow, Hayes, Hooper (Lansbury 46).
Subs Not Used: Lillis, May. 
Booked: Byrne. 
Goals: Hayes 57, McCann 66 pen. 

Att: 30,542 
Ref: Mark Haywood (W Yorkshire).

Leicester City - Scunthorpe Utd.

Two more rounds in League One. Almost everything is known. It is left to see who will be the second direct promoted team, Peterborough Utd., or MK Dons and who will grab the 6th place for play-off, Tranmere Rovers or Scunthorpe Utd.. The champion is Leicester, definitely became with away win in Southend 2-0. Entire season Foxes have been saying they don't belong in League One, now their ambition grows. Chairman Milan Mandaric told this is just the beginning and Premier League isn't a dream. Players are full of confidence, fans are in ecstasy. Significant characteristic of their performance this season is they never lack in motivation, especially when they play against the opponent who is worthy of their respect. Scunthorpe, for example. Southend, Leeds (away, 1-0), or Millwall (1-0 away). At home, they're superior, with just one defeat, conceding 14 goals in 22 games, far best the defence in the league and second best attack (MK Dons scored two times more). Striker Steve Howard is recovered from a virus, returned to training on Wednesday and should figure. 

With two consecutive home defeats (Huddersfield Town 1-2 and MK Dons 0-1), visitors fell below the play-off line. 6th Tranmere Rovers have a point (and a game) more. At the last round (Northampton Town away, 3-3) they displayed solid performance, but thankfully to some silly mistakes by the defence line, managed to concede three times from relegation contender. Now, they have three games to save the season. They probable couldn't wish the worse opponent, than today's. Champion on their own ground! First-team coach Andy Crosby could return after recovering from a stomach bug. Sam Togwell comes back after suspension and Joseph Mills could be restored after being on the bench midweek. 

Scunthorpe has no other way, than to attack the champions and try to take off the smiles from their faces. I think they only can make them angry. Expekt offers 2.15 for a home win and that's fine for me. And a gamble bet on 1-1 ht/ft.

Friday's gossip column


Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez will increase the acrimony with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson by trying to sign Carlos Tevez, whose loan at Old Trafford ends at the end of the season. (The Times)  
Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho wants to go back to his former club Chelsea in order to sign midfielder Deco. (Daily Mirror) 
Wigan boss Steve Bruce has his sights set on defender Nathaniel Clyne from ex-club Crystal Palace. (Daily Express) 
Birmingham are keen on bringing Manchester City keeper Joe Hart to the club on loan if they are promoted. (Daily Mirror) 
Stoke boss Tony Pulis will join Sunderland and Blackburn in the battle to sign Liverpool centre-back Sami Hyypia. (The Sun) 
West Brom boss Tony Mowbray will increase his efforts to sign Swindon striker Simon Cox, who is also a target for Derby, Leicester and QPR. (The Sun) 
The Baggies also want Plymouth striker Ashley Barnes but face competition from Fulham. (Daily Star) 
Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc could become a £7 million target for German club Bayern Munich. (Daily Record)  


Chelsea have succeeded in their attempts to bring in AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti as their next manager after he agreed to join the Stamford Bridge club. (Daily Star) 
Liverpool boss Benitez says Manchester United boss Ferguson "can see that we are the better side" as he insisted he would continue to stand up to his rival manager. (Various) 
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola and his assistant Steve Clarke will sign new four-year deals with the club. (Daily Telegraph) 
Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has issued a "don't leave us" plea to team-mate Tevez. (The Sun)
Roy Keane has wasted no time courting controversy in his new job as Ipswich boss as he has said former team-mates and now Premier League managers Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes have "potential" but are not "successful managers" yet. (Various) 
Southampton will appeal against the decision to dock them 10 points by the Football League. (Various) 
Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist believes the club's captain Barry Ferguson still has a future at the Ibrox. (Various) 
St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson wants at least £1m for midfielder Andy Dorman. (Various) 
Hamilton goalkeeper Tomas Cerny, who is on loan from Sigma Olomouc, has agreed personal terms on a permanent deal with the Scottish Premier League club. (Various) 


Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney will be at Anfield on Sunday cheering on Oyster Martyrs - a team managed by his Uncle Richie and including his younger brother Graham as well as cousin Tommy - in the FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup final against Scot Grey. (Daily Mirror)

Inter 1-0 Sampdoria

Serie A leaders Inter Milan were knocked out of the Italian Cup on Thursday when a 1-0 semi-final second leg win over Sampdoria fell short of overturning a 3-0 deficit from the teams' first meeting.In the May 13 final in Rome, Sampdoria will face Lazio who completed a 4-2 aggregate win over Juventus on Wednesday.
It will be Sampdoria's first cup final appearance since 1994 where they defeated Ancona while, for Inter, defeat meant their run of four successive final spots came to an end.
Inter were champions in 2005 and 2006 and runners-up in 2007 and 2008.

With three goals to make up, Inter coach Jose Mourinho played three strikers with Mario Balotelli, Julio Cruz and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all starting.
It was Ibrahimovic who was to score the only goal of the second leg with a superb 27th-minute volley although the Swedish international was unfortunate not have celebrated a second when he saw a 37th-minute lob come back off the post.
Sampdoria had their chances with Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini both denied by good saves from Julio Cesar.

Inter can now turn their attentions to clinching the league title.
They have a 10-point lead with just six games left to play.

Sporting Gijon 0 - 3 Espanyol

Inter - Sampdoria

Yesterday I spent a day on some meadow (that somebody calls a stadium) singing to our loving club. I missed my bets 'cause didn't have time for deeper researching, but shallow opinion was correct (and useful I hope), handicap and under. Anyway...

On the Giuseppe Meazza stadium will be played a second match of Italian Cup, semi-final. In the first game, Inter played certainly the worst performance in the entire season, loosing 3-0. With a saturday's draw in Torino, they practically secured the title, the Cup is left. Loosing one trophy can put a shadow on their superiority in Italy and I have no doubt Mourinho will try everything to reach the final. Press from the beginning with Ibrahimovic and Balotelli in attack should result with early goal (in any net). Inter won their league game on Meazza 1-0, after that visitors were loud in complaining against referee. Maicon won't play, Muntari too. Patrick Vieira is expected to start the match.

Opposite from Inter, first leg was the best game for Doria, this season. Cup competition is the only way for them to reach Europe. 12 000 fans got the tickets and travel to Milan to support the lads. It is clear that tonight's game is a match of the season for them. They lost 0-2 in Catania, but their thoughts were on Meazza. 3-0 advantage is huge and boss Mazzari has a difficult task to keep the players focused, 'cause real hell is waiting for them. One goal, conceded early can turn the pleasant dreams into nightmare. Palombo, Cassano and Pazzini will try to score from counter-attack and finish the job.

Loosing one trophy would be a big hit to Jose Mourinho's vanity. Inter will try to score early and open the game, that tactic can be "little" risky when you know who contains opponent's attack. Even if they concede, I don't expect Inter to stop. My bet is goals. Bwin offers more than decent 1.75. Over.

Real Sporting - Espanyol

Espanyol has two wins and a draw from last three round. This game as the rest will be decisive for them. Sporting, on the other hand, with four consecutive defeats reached the relegation line. They were overplayed against Betis (0-2 on the road), but in round before that, they played more than well against Valencia (2-3 at home), loosing unlucky. If they repeat that performance tonight, their victory isn't even in doubt. Odds for are very high for a home win. Pinnacle offers 3.05! That's more than enough for me to try. Gamble bet. Home win!

Javor 1-0 Crvena Zvezda

1-0 Racic 9. min

Thursday's gossip column


Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o claims he has turned down a £35m move to Manchester City. Inter Milan also want the Cameroon star but he says he wants a new deal at the Nou Camp. (Daily Mirror) 
Tottenham are keen on signing Lokomotiv Moscow goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic, who is currently on loan at Grasshoppers Zurich, as back-up for Heurelho Gomes. (The Sun) 
Arsenal, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are tracking CSKA Moscow's Czech Republic international striker Tomas Necid, 19, who is available for £3m. (Daily Mirror) 
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is set to swoop for teenage Brazilian centre-back Jose Rodolfo Pires Ribeiro Dodo from Corinthians. The 17-year-old could end up costing United £5m. (Daily Mirror) 
Ferguson is also watching 16-year-old Real Valladolid centre-back Victor Mongil, after being told the defender is one for the future. (Daily Mirror) 
Derby County defender Claude Davis hopes to turn his loan spell at Crystal Palace into a permanent move. (Daily Express) 
Hearts midfielder Bruno Aguiar, who is wanted by Rangers and Celtic, says he has not decided where he will be playing next season. (Daily Record) 
Hibernian boss Mixu Paatelainen fears striker Steven Fletcher and defender Rob Jones could both leave Easter Road in the summer. Nottingham Forest have been linked with a £1m move for Jones and Celtic are long-term admirers of Fletcher. (Daily Record) 
Aberdeen duo Scott Severin and Lee Mair are set to leave Pittodrie at the end of the season because the Dons cannot afford to offer them new contracts. Burnley want midfielder Severin and St Mirren have approached defender Mair. (Daily Record) 


Roy Keane wants the vacant Ipswich Town job and could be in charge of the Tractor Boys in time for their trip to Cardiff City on Saturday. (The Sun) 
Ipswich representatives made an approach to Keane last week - when Jim Magilton was still in charge at Portman Road - and held further talks with the former Sunderland boss on Monday. (The Sun) 
Magilton, who had been in charge of Ipswich for almost three years, was sacked over the phone on Wednesday. (Daily Mail) 
Keane could be unveiled as Ipswich boss on Thursday. (The Guardian) 
Part of the terms of Keane's appointment will see the former Manchester United midfielder relocate from Cheshire to East Anglia. Keane did not move house when he was in charge at Sunderland. (Various) 
Aston Villa defender Martin Laursen is expected to announce his retirement by the end of the week. The Dane has been warned that attempting to play on through his persistent knee problems could cause him problems in later life. (Daily Express) 
Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz fears his knee injury will cost him a big-money move away from Ewood Park this summer. (Daily Mirror) 
Newcastle United manager Alan Shearer will not drop Michael Owen despite the striker having failed to score in his last eight appearances for the Magpies. (The Sun) 
Shearer is using a therapist to give his players one-to-one talks in an attempt to boost their confidence ahead of Monday's crucial clash with fellow strugglers Portsmouth. (Daily Mirror) 
Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins has postponed groin surgery until the summer so he can help the Magpies in their battle against the drop. (The Guardian) 
Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin says he wants to stay with the Gunners for the rest of his career. (The Sun) 
Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia will recover from his ankle injury in time to face Manchester United in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday. (Daily Mirror) 
Liverpool's American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, have pledged to work together to raise the funds they need to refinance the club's loans and retain control of the Reds. (The Times) 
Former Chelsea boss Avram Grant has been offered the chance of taking over as manager of the Czech Republic. (Daily Star) 
AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti, who is Chelsea's top target to be their next boss, has been learning English all season. England midfielder David Beckham, on loan at the San Siro from LA Galaxy, said: "Every time I try to fix his English, he insists on making errors and we end up laughing". (The Sun) 
Inter Milan could terminate Adriano's contract on Thursday. The Brazil striker said earlier this month that he is taking a leave of absence because he has "lost the joy of playing". (The Independent) 
Wigan Athletic boss Steve Bruce will hand a new one-year deal to veteran goalkeeper Mike Pollitt, 37, but will allow Antoine Sibierski to leave the JJB Stadium this summer. (Daily Mirror) 
Watford boss Brendan Rogers says club-record signing Nathan Ellington, who cost the Hornets £3.25m from Wigan in August 2007, has no future at Vicarage Road. (Daily Star) 
Derby County boss Nigel Clough is set to release more than 10 players at the end of the season as he looks to overhaul his squad at Pride Park. (Daily Mirror) 
Hearts hope to upgrade Tynecastle so it is suitable to host European ties if they qualify for next season's Europa League. The Jambos have been forced to play at Murrayfield since 2003 because their own stadium and pitch does not currently meet Uefa requirements. (Daily Record) 


Former England international midfielder Paul Gascoigne has signed up for a celebrity version of BBC1 comedy obstacle course gameshow 'Total Wipeout'. (The Sun)

No betting today

Disappointing Cardiff game, Addicks scored twice. Charlton relegated, but has six games without defeat! Poor offer for today. Chelsea will face Everton. Both sides are tired from semi-finals. Home win is a logic conclusion, but home side will have a lots of problems with Everton's tough defence. I think under (1.90) is a better choice.

United is additionally encouraged with the derby's result. Ferguson rested the key players (and lost FA Cup), so I guess it means those keys are rested and will play tonight. Portsmouth secured their Premier League status and feel relaxed on Old Trafford. Maybe can score. Home handicap win is a good bet. Odds are about 1.85-1.90. But again, no betting today for me. Or maybe a gamble bet on these two games combo. :) Cheers.