REAL Football: Opening Weekend of La Liga

Howdy sports fans,

This is the second regular The Real Football Rant and Chant (yeah I’m surprised to see me here too) as not even my computer dying on me could stop me bringing this column to you. However, the computer problems really made it a slog to get this column finished, so you’ll have to excuse the lack of pimps and final thoughts. Okay, before I put a fist through my computer screen let’s get on with the show:

English Premiership Results

Second Round Results (played on 22nd/23rd August)

Watford 1 – 1 West Ham United
Tottenham Hotspurs 2 – 0 Sheffield United
Middlesborough 2 – 1 Chelsea
Charlton Athletic 0 – 3 Manchester United
Aston Villa 2 – 1 Reading
Manchester City 0 – 0 Portsmouth
Fulham 1 – 1 Bolton

3rd Round Results (Played 26th/27th August)

Charlton 1- 0 Bolton
Fulham 2 – 0 Sheffield United
Liverpool 2 -1 West Ham
Man City 1 – 0 Arsenal
Tottenham 0 – 2 Everton
Watford 1 – 2 Manchester United
Wigan 1 – 0 Reading
Aston Villa vs Newcastle United
Blackburn Rovers vs Chelsea
Middlesborough v Portsmouth

Even after losing the talismanic Wayne Rooney to suspension Manchester United continued to set the pace, with a fine 3-0 away win at Charlton and then a hard fought 2-1 victory against Watford suggesting that Manchester United aren’t going to be quite as dependent on the boy called Wazza as they were last season. At the other end of the table, Sheffield United had a miserable time down south, with both Tottenham and Fulham inflicting two-nil defeats on the Blades. The other promoted teams also had a miserable week, with Watford gaining a point at West Ham being the pick of the week’s results for the new boys.

Wednesday saw Chelsea dramatically lose at Middlesborough, with two goals in the last ten minutes giving ‘Boro a home victory against Mourinho’s men for the second successive season. Still Chelsea bounced back against Blackburn with a 2-nil victory, with Drogba scoring a terrific goal. Staying with the title contenders, Liverpool celebrated 100years of the Kop with a hard fought 2-1 win against West Ham as defender Agger scored an absolute screamer to equalise before Crouch grabbed the winner just before half-time. It wasn’t all bad news for the Hammers’ as Bobby Zamora continued his good form in front of goal, with his fourth goal this season, although he almost certainly intending it to be a cross not a shot. Martin O’Neil continued to prove exactly why he is GOD with a lucky 2-1 win against Reading followed by a convincing 2-0 win against Newcastle to take Villa 2nd with 7pts, which is 7 more than they would’ve got if O’Leary had have stayed.

Saturday proved a dark day in North London as Tottenham stuttering start to season continued as they suffered a shock defeat to 10-man Everton with Andrew Johnson once again in the goals whilst Arsenal lost to a Ben Thatcher-less Manchester City for the first time since 1991. Although it would be stupid to write Arsenal off this early in the season, they’re really struggling to break down teams that just sit back and hit them on the break. They really need to bring in players that will give them a variety of options i.e. a proper centre forward so they can play long when needed and wingers so that they can stretch opponent’s defences. At the moment all Arsenal have is beautiful play through the middle, which when it works is some of the best football you can see but when it doesn’t it leads to missed chance after missed chance.

Football League Round Up

English Football League Championship Results (Played 25th-27th)

Queens Park Rangers 2 – 1 Ipswich Town
Cardiff 2 – 0 Birmingham
Colchester 4 -3 Derby
Crystal Palace 2 -2 Burnley
Hull 0 -1 Coventry
Leicester 1 – 0 Southend
Norwich 5 -1 Barnsley
Southampton 1 -1 Preston
Stoke 1 -1 Plymouth
Wolverhampton 1 – 0 Luton
Sheffield Wednesday 0 – 1 Leeds United
Sunderland vs West Bromwich Albion F.C (Mon)

The big game in Championship saw Cardiff pull off an impressive win against Birmingham, with Parry having a hand in both goals, setting up one and scoring the other. The result sees Cardiff top the Championship on 12pts and so attain their highest league position for 34years. Crystal Palace join Birmingham on 10pts after a disappointing home draw against Burnley as do Norwich after a thumping 5-1 win against 10-man Barnsley. At the other end of the table, Colchester got their first points on the board as they managed to hang on in the face of a spirited Derby fight back to win 4-3. Coventry City and Leicester City both made big surges up the table (nine and eight places respectively) as both recorded 1-nil victories, with Leicester in particular looking good as after a shaky start to the season we seem to have recovered the form we showed towards the end of last season. Sunday saw the pressure on Kevin Blackwell lessen slightly as his Leeds side won the Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wednesday, although they needed a highly dubious penalty to do it. Afterwards Wednesday manager Paul Sturrock called for Premiership referees not to be used in the Football League because “they can’t handle the step down”.

English Football League, League One

Blackpool v Gillingham
Bradford 1 -1 Rotherham
Cheltenham 3 – 2 Millwall
Chesterfield 0 – 2 Tranmere
Doncaster 1 – 1 Bournemouth
Huddersfield 1 – 1 Nottingham Forest
Leyton Orient 0 – 1 Swansea
Scunthorpe 1 – 1 Brentford
Yeovil 1 – 0 Port Vale
Brighton 1 – 4 Crewe
Oldham 0 – 0 Carlisle
Northampton v Bristol City (Tues)

The two teams that had set the pace in League One both lost their 100% records with Yeovil inflicting a shock 1-nil defeat on Port Vale whilst Huddersfield held Forest to a 1-all draw. The results see Forest top the table with 13pts, with Port Vale behind them on 12pts. Just behind the top two are Bradford and Tranmere on 10pts, with Tranmere recording an impressive away victory at Chesterfield. Millwall’s shocking away form continues as they conceded their 10th goal in three away games as they lost 3-2 to Cheltenham. Crewe’s season finally got going as they stormed back from 1-0 down to give 10-man Brighton a jolly good thrashing as they ended up beating them 4-1 in their own back yard.

English Football League, League Two

Accrington Stanley 1 -1 Rochdale
Boston United 0 – 1 Milton Keynes Dons
Bristol Rovers 1 – 0 Shrewsbury
Bury 3 – 0 Grimsby
Hereford 3 -1 Hartlepool
Macclesfield 0 – 2 Wycombe
Mansfield 2 – 4 Lincoln City
Notts County 0 – 0 Peterborough
Swindon 2 – 0 Stockport
Torquay 2 -2 Chester
Walsall 1 – 0 Darlington
Wrexham 1 – 1 Barnet

Swindon continued to set the pace in League Two as they maintain their 100% record (and the only 100% record outside the Premiership) with a comfortable 2-0 victory against Swindon. Second place Walsall and third place MK Dons both continued their strong starts to the season with 1-0 victories against Darlington and Boston respectively. Lincoln’s Jamie Forrester had an incredible game on Saturday with 4 goals in 34minutes to put the game out of Mansfield’s reach. Less excitement was to be found in the other Midlands’ derby with a dour 0-all draw between Notts County and Peterborough. After their heroics against Sunderland in the League Cup earlier in the week, Bury got their league campaign off the ground with a 3-0 victory against Grimsby.

European League Round Ups

Scottish Premier League

Aberdeen 1 – 0 Dunfermline
Glasgow Celtic 2 – 1 Hibernian
Falkirk 0 – 1 Motherwell
Hearts 4 – 1 Inverness CT
St Mirren 1 – 3 Dundee United
Kilmarnock 2 – 2 Glasgow Rangers

Champions Glasgow Celtic went top, with a 2-1 win against Hibernian, with new signing Hesslelink making an instant impact with the winner in the 65th minute. Hearts joined Celtic on 10pts with an emphatic 4-1 win against Inverness that went someway to cheer their spirits after they crashed out of the Champions League midweek. Surprise packages St. Mirren and Falkirk both missed out on the chance to join the top two on 10pts, with St. Mirren crashing to a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Dundee United whilst Falkirk suffered a surprise defeat to Motherwell, giving Motherwell their first points of the season.

Sunday came and went without Rangers reclaiming top spot, as Kilmarnock took full advantage of an injury time penalty to take a point from Ibrox. Still it wasn’t all bad for Paul Le Guen’s men with Kris Boyd grabbing another two goals to reclaim his position as the SPL’s top scorer. It’d take a real stupid manager not to start every game with him upfront, wouldn’t it readers?

German Bundesliga Results

Bayer Leverkusen 1 – 1 Wolfsburg
Bayern Munich 0 – 0 Nurnberg
Borussia Mönchengladbac1 – 0 Arminia Bielefeld
Hanover 96 0 – 3 Alemania Aachen
VFL Bochum 0 -1 Cottbus
VFB Stuggart 1 – 3 Borussia Dortmund
Schalke 04 2 – 0 Werder Bremen
Hamburger SV 0 – 0 Hertha Berlin
Mainz 1 – 1 Eintracht Frankfurt

The third round of the Bundesliga saw all three teams with 100% records drop points as Werder Bremen lost 2-0 at Schalke whilst Bayern and Nurnberg cancelled each other out, battling to a 0-0 draw. Eric S’s favourite team Eintracht Frankfurt continued to be the masters of the draw, holding Mainz to a 1-1draw. Cottbus secured their first victory of the season against Bochum in the battle of the Bundesliga new boys, which means that Bochum are still yet to get any points this season. Joining them on 0pts are Hanover 96 whose miserable start to the season continued as they were thrashed 3-0 at home by Alemania Aachen. At the close of the third round, Nurnberg, Bayern and Schalke are all on 7pts with Nurnberg top on goal difference.

French Ligue 1 Results

Lille 3 – 0 Bordeaux
Lorient 3 – 1 Nantes
Nice 1 – 4 Lyon
Sochaux 3 – 2 PSG
Troyes 1 – 2 Toulouse
Marseille 2 – 0 Le Mans
Valenciennes 3 – 1 Rennes
Monaco 2 – 1 Sedan
Nancy 1 – 0 Auxerre
Saint Etienne 3 – 2 Lens

It takes something special to score against the all conquering Lyon and Vahirua’s goal for Nice was certainly that. Sadly for them, their lead proved to be short lived as Lyon stormed back to win the match 4-1 with Tiago being instrumental in the fight back, setting up Venezuela to score Lyon’s 2nd goal and then himself scoring the 3rd from a well worked set piece. However, that wasn’t enough to secure top spot for Lyon with Marseille’s 2-0 victory against Le Mans given them a superior goal difference to the champions. Only a point behind Lyon and Marseille are Lille, Nancy and St. Etienne all of who recorded their third wins of the season to take them to 9pts. Lille’s victory was particularly impressive as they comfortably beat the early pace setters Bordeaux 3-0. Newly promoted Valenciennes continue to impress with a 3 -1 victory against Rennes, whose third defeat out of four games leaves them with only one point. That match btw, saw some excellent goals including a wonderful overheard kick from Rennes’ Briand. Lastly, there was heartbreak for PSG as they fought back from 2 goals down only to concede an 81st minute penalty against Sochaux, which Zianhi coolly converted to give the home side a 3-2 win.

Eredivisie Results

FC Utrecht 2 – 2 Sparta
Heerenveen 5 – 0 Willem II
RKC 1 – 1 Excelsior
Vitesse 1 – 3 AZ
Roda JC 1 – 0 ADO Haag
FC Twente 1 – 0 PSV
Feyneoord 0 – 0 Heracles
NEC 1 – 1 FC Groningen
NAC 1 – 2 Ajax

The second round of the Eredivisie saw champions PSV fall to a shock defeat at the hands of FC Twente. AZ continued their strong start to season with a 3-1 victory at Vitesse keeping them top on goal difference, with Ajax and Heerenveen joining them on 6pts. Feyneoord’s poor start to the season continued as they were held at home to a 0-0 draw by Hercales whilst new boys Excelsior got their first points on the board with a 1-1 draw against RKC.

Spanish La Liga

Valencia 2 – 1 Real Betis
Deportivo 3 – 2 Real Zaragoza
Racing 0 – 1 Atletico Madrid
Recreativo 1 – 1 Mallorca
Osasuna 0 – 2 Getafe
Real Madrid 0 – 0 Villarreal
Espanyol 0 – 1 Gimnastic
Athletic Bilbao 1 – 1 Real Sociedad
Celta Vigo v Barcelona (Mon)
Sevilla v Levante (Tues)

The new La Liga season begun with Valencia recording a hard won victory against Real Betis, with former Liverpool misfit Morientes and Albiol scoring the goals. The Basque derby saw Bilbao take the lead thanks to a never-was-a -penalty (unless penalties are now given when the ball strikes the striker’s hand), thankfully justice was done as Sociedad equalised with three minutes to go. Unfashionable but ever dependable Getafe (think a Spanish Bolton) recorded a comfortable 2-0 away victory against Osasuna. However, the big match was the opening bow of Capello’s new look Real Madrid side with summer signings Diarra, Emerson, Van Nistelrooy and Cannavaro managing to…er…draw 0-0 with Villarreal. In all fairness with so many new players Madrid were always going to make a slow start and the fact that a motivated Van Nistelrooy picked things up with David Beckham where they left off in 2003 bodes well for Madrid this season. However, what really bodes well for Madrid is that Capello had the balls to leave Ronaldo on the bench, hopefully this is a sign that from now on players will be picked on sporting merit not who can sell t-shirts.

Portugal League Results

FC Porto 2 – 1 Uniao Leiria
Sporting Lisbon 3 – 2 Boavista
Braga 2 – 1 Pacos Ferreira
Beria Mar 2 – 2 Aves
Maritimo 1 – 0 Nacional
Naval 2 – 0 Amadora
Vitoria Setubal v Academica
Benfica v Gil Vicente

Sporting Lisbon and Boavista battled in a five-goal thriller in the pick of the matches in this opening weekend of the Portuguese league; with both sides scoring in injury time as Lisbon squeaked a home win. Champion’s Porto scored a comfortable enough 2-1 home victory at Uniao Leiria whilst a Geraldo own goal in the 90th minute gave Braga a 2-1 victory against Pacos Ferreira. There were also victories for Maritmo and Naval.

Champions League Round Up

Third Qualifying Results

(Aggregate scores in brackets/bold)

AEK Athens 3 – 0 Hearts (AEK Athens 5 – 1 Hearts)
Ajax 0 – 2 FC Copenhagen (Ajax 2 – 3 FC Copenhagen)
Arsenal 2 – 1 Dinamo Zagreb (Arsenal 5 – 1 Dinamo Zagreb)
Chievo 2 -2 Levski Sofia (Chievo 2 – 4 Levski Sofia)
Fenerbahce 2 – 2 Dynamo Kiev (Fenerbache 3 – 5 Dynamo Kiev)
Legia Warsaw 2 – 3 Shakhater Donetsk (Legia Warsaw 2 – 4 S.Donetsk)
Mlada Boleslav 1 -1 Galatasaray (Mlada Boleslav 3 – 6 Galatasaray)
Rabotnicki Kometal 0 – 1 Lille (Rabotnicki 0 – 4 Lille)
SCP Ruzomberok 0 – 2 CSKA Moscow (SCP Ruzomberok 0 – 5 CSKA)
Spartak Moscow 2 -1 Liberec (Spartak Moscow 2 – 1 Liberec)
Steaua Bucuresti 2 – 1 Standard Liege (Steaua Bucuresti 4 – 3 S. Liege)
Benfica 3 – 0 Austria Magna (Benfica 4 – 1 Austria Magna)
Crvena Zvezda 1 – 2 AC Milan (Crvena 1 – 3 AC Milan)
Maccabi Haifa 1 -1 Liverpool (Maccabi Haifa 2 – 3 Liverpool)
Osasuna 1 – 1 Hamburger SV (1 -1, Hamburg go through on away goals)
Valencia 3 – 0 SV Red Bull Salzburg (Valencia 3 – 1 SV Red Bull Salzburg)

Well the big story from the Champions League third and final qualifying round is that FC Copenhagen have knocked out four-time champions Ajax after securing a 2-0 victory in Amsterdam. Italian side Chievo crashed out to a 4-2 aggregate defeat at the hands of Bulgarian champions Levski Sofia, who therefore become the first Bulgarian team to qualify for the Champions League proper. In a titanic battle of the also-rans last season’s fourth place Spanish side Osasuna lost on away goals to last season’s third place German side Hamburger SV. The only other notable side to go out were Turkish runners up Fenerbahce who were unfortunate enough to be drawn against Ukrainian champions and Champions League regulars Dynamo Kiev.

Group Stage Draw

On Thursday the draw was made for the group stage of the Champions League, with what had to be the most boring and protracted draw ever. The groups are as follows:

NB: Top two teams of each group progress to knockout stage, the third place teams enter the UEFA Cup.

Group A: Barcelona, Chelsea, Werder Bremen, Levski Sofia.

The group that is exciting everyone, with Barcelona and Chelsea meeting for the third successive year being the pick of the first round matches. However Werder Bremen should prove robust opposition for the English and Spanish champions, with World Cup Golden Boot winner Klose being the danger man for the German runners up. Bulgarian champions Levski Sofia make up the numbers, and will have to rely on their home form to avoid being the whipping boys of this group.

Group B: Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Sporting Lisbon, Spartak Moscow.

This is a group that conforms to the usual (and UEFA desired) Champions League group formula of two teams fighting for 1st place and two teams fighting for 3rd place. Italian Champions Inter Milan will pit their wits against German Champions Bayern Munich in the two games that will surely decide the group whilst Sporting Lisbon and Spartak Moscow duke it out for 3rd place and the UEFA Cup spot. Still Inter and Bayern won’t be able to take anything for granted, with Lisbon having a fine European pedigree and it’s always difficult to go to Moscow and get a result.

Group C: Liverpool, PSV Eindhoven, Bordeaux, Galatasaray

For me this will be the tightest group and Liverpool have really been hammered with this draw. Firstly, PSV Eindhoven are a very good side having made the semi-finals two years ago and would fancy themselves against Liverpool especially in Eindhoven. Bordeaux are a decent French side and although they’ve form has wobbled a bit since being defeated by Lyon last week they should prove a robust challenge to the top two teams. And of course, nobody ever, ever wants to go to Galatasaray and there will be few away points being won by the three western European sides in Turkey. Any four of these sides could qualify for the second round.

Group D: Valencia, Roma, Olympiakos, Shakhtar Donetsk

Valencia and Roma will be the top two and Olympiakos will get third place. NEXT!

Group E: Real Madrid, Lyon, Steaua Bucharest, Dynamo Kiev

Another quality packed group, with a much-changed Real Madrid side (who btw are a good bet to be the eventual winners with very long odds) taking on the French champions Lyon in what should be two cracking games. Dynamo Kiev aren’t anywhere near the side they were at the turn of the century but they still can hold their own with the big boys, especially when they play in the Ukraine. Steaua Bucharest round off the group, and like most Eastern European sides will be very reliant on their home form to reach a respectable points total

Group F: Manchester United, Glasgow Celtic, Benfica, FC Copenhagen

A pretty soft draw for Manchester United although we said that last year and look what happened. Benfica will be happy with this draw as well as when you take into account their good run in this competition last year and Celtic’s so-so start to Scottish season they should be favourites to bag second spot. Celtic would fancy themselves for third place, but you can’t rule out Danish champions FC Copenhagen after their impressive away victory at Ajax. Still, whatever happens the “Battle of Britain” matches between Manchester United and Glasgow Celtic should be tremendous fun.

Group G: Arsenal, FC Porto, CSKA Moscow, FC Hamburger SV

A difficult group for last year’s runners up Arsenal with Hamburger SV probably the strongest of the fourth seeds whilst former champions Porto will be no pushovers for the Gunners. And of course, they will not fancy the trip to Moscow to play CSKA. Arsenal could very easily be on course for a shock early exit, especially with their stuttering start to the season.

Group H: AC Milan, Lille, AEK Athens, Anderlecht

Disgraced Italian side AC Milan gets the easiest group to prove that crime absolutely does pay. Hopefully this motley group of a French just-not-quite, a Greek never-were and a Belgian has-been will somehow knock the cheaters out of the competition.

Interesting News

Manchester City’s Ben Thatcher has had a week he’d want to forget after his disgraceful forearm smash against Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes. It was a disgraceful, deliberate foul that left Mendes in hospital after suffering convulsions that only gets worse the more you look at it. Incredibly, he only got a yellow card for it but the FA have sensibly stretched FIFA (stupid) rules against retrospective punishments to charge Thatcher with serious foul play and he can look forward to a deserved long suspension. There’s also talk of Ben Thatcher being charged for assault by Manchester Police, which to be honest I’m a bit queasy about. Bringing criminal law onto the sporting pitch is a dangerous move that could have all sorts of unexpected repercussions. Hopefully, common sense will prevail and the FA will resolve the matter without the police getting involved. Staying with Manchester City, they’ve made the welcome decision to join Stonewall’s Diversity Champions program that seeks to help companies become LGBT friendly employers. This is a welcome step to combat football’s culture of homophobia and hopefully other clubs will follow Manchester City’s lead.

Juventus have plunged Serie A into chaos with their appeal to the Lazio Regional Administrative Court against their relegation to Serie B. Of immediate concern is actually getting the 2006 season started, with the September 6th date for their hearing making it impossible for the Italian league to start on the 10th as planned. Secondly, there was at one point the threat of FIFA taking action against the Italian FA due to Juventus breaking FIFA’s strict rules against clubs appealing to civil authorities. However, with the Italian FA promising to punish Juventus for the appeal, its unlikely that FIFA will make good on their threat.

Celtic player Artur Boruc has been cautioned by Scottish police after making the sign of the cross at the Old Firm game in February. It’s a fair enough punishment in a fixture that is plagued by sectarian tensions although its ‘amusing’ to see Rangers’ fans complain about Boruc’s sign of the cross when they go round singing Billy Boy.

There was the first round of the League Cup which included some interesting results as League One and League Two sides scored some upsets against Championship sides. However, the results became much less interesting when you realised that every single side that suffered a shock defeat were fielding weakened sides. Surely when even Championship sides don’t value the Cup enough to field their strongest sides its time to put the wretched thing out of its misery? For those who disagree here’s the second round draw.

Talking about broken back competitions, this week saw the last qualifying round of the UEFA Cup and the draw for the first round but the competition is such a joke you won’t see any coverage from me until either a) something interesting happens or b) the quarter finals, whichever comes first.

It seems like Roy Keane will be the new Sunderland manager, more on this next week when it’s official and my computer’s working again.

Finally, a very bizarre situation is developing around Claude Makelele’s desire to retire from international football. Basically, Makelele said he was retiring from international football after the World Cup, which is no big deal, he’s done it before and he’s getting on a bit. However, when Raymond Domenech’s French squad for next week internationals Claude Makelele was included with the French FA telling Chelsea that if Makelele doesn’t turn up then they’ll report him to FIFA who’ll suspend him for four league games. This really is bizarre, surely if a player says he wants to retire then that’s their choice and their international boss should respect that decision? Hell, even from the coach’s perspective it can’t be a good thing to have an unmotivated player who doesn’t want to play for you? Its hard not to agree with Mourinho when he says Makelele is being treated like a slave not a footballer.

Interesting Transfer News

The Reyes transfer saga took two twists this week as firstly Atletico Madrid made an £8million bid, probably for the sole reason of pissing off local rivals Real Madrid. Then at the weekend Reyes told the Spanish press that he has played his last game in England which comes as something of a surprise to his manager Arsene Wenger. Personally, I’ve never been overly impressed with Reyes who has never really excelled in Arsenal colours for a prolonged period of time. Still with only four days to go to bring new players in, Wenger can’t really afford to lose yet another player. Staying with Arsenal, the increasingly tedious Ashley Cole transfer saga is going to be resolved real soon if you believe Peter Kenyon or if it could drag on for another year if you believe the Daily Star. Whatever happens, it looks increasingly unlikely that William Gallas will make the opposite journey.

Bayern Munich are near to completing the signing of Barcelona’s Dutch midfielder Mark Van Bommel but General Manger Uli Hoeness swears that this in no way paves the way for Owen Haregreaves to move to Manchester United. Nope, they’re just buying a holding midfielder for the hell of it.

Its handbags at dawn between Middlesborough and Tottenham , with Middlesborough reacting to Spurs’ very public bid for Stewart Downing with an accusation of Spurs destabilising Downing and a decidedly tongue in cheek bid for Stewart Downing.

Celtic have had a busy week signing Lee Naylor from Wolves for £600,000 and Jan Vennegoor of Hesslelink from PSV for £3.4million. They could also end up signing Thomas Gravesen from Real Madrid, with Gravesen telling BBC Sport that they, Newcastle United, Middlesborough, Bolton and his former club Everton are all vying for his signature.

Former Liverpool and Lyon target Joaquin has instead stayed in Spain, moving from Real Betis to Valencia …Newcastle United splashed out £10million on Inter Milan’s Obafemi Martins only to have him stretchered off on his debut against Aston Villa with a dead leg… Bolton have smashed their transfer record with the £8.5million signing of former Arsenal and Real Madrid striker Nicholas Anelka …Lastly, Real Madrid’s injury plagued defender Jonathan Woodgate is making a loan move back to England with former club Newcastle United and Middlesborough interested in having him grace their treatment tables for the forthcoming year.

No final thoughts this week, because I am this close to destroying my computer after the way its been playing up. See you next week, when we’ll have all the weekend’s international action including a match report on the high profile Argentina vs Brazil friendly, end of the transfer window transfer wheeling and dealing and all the latest news from the European leagues.