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Sunday Kickoff: Real Madrid suffers defeat, Roma sacks Zeman, and more


Saturday’s match between Granada CF and Real Madrid began just like many Real matches during the past three seasons. With a Cristiano Ronaldo goal.

This time, it was into the wrong net.

The 27-year-old Portuguese international got a flick off an opposing corner kick in the 22nd minute, that went over new goalkeeper Diego Lopez’s head and into the back of the net, giving Granada the 1-0 lead. And try as they may, Real Madrid’s star studded attack were unable to break down the defiant Granada defense, as the Andalusian side recorded an historic win, as well as earning three important points.

Real Madrid remain in third-place in the La Liga table, but are now 15 points in back of leaders Barcelona, and five points behind second-placed Atletico Madrid. Both Atletico and Barcelona each have two games in hand on Real Madrid.

Here are some other stories to get your Sunday started:


AS Roma manager Zdenek Zeman has been removed from his position, effective immediately, following a disastrous 4-2 loss to Cagliari on Friday afternoon.

The Czech Republic native was in the first year of a second spell in charge of Roma, but his luck was not able to last long enough to see out the season. The team has performed well below expectations, and currently sit in eighth-place in the Serie A table, with ten wins, nine losses, and four draws.

Zeman was the manager who signed American midfielder Michael Bradley from Chievo Verona last summer. Roma have yet to announce a replacement.


Hosts South Africa have been eliminated from the African Cup of Nations tournament, following a loss on penalty kicks to Mali after the teams finished regulation, and extra time, tied at 1-1.

The West African side scored three penalties, denying Bafana Bafana the opportunity to move on with clutch saves, and timely misses. Lehlohonolo Majoro of South Africa needed to score to keep their chances alive, and his penalty kick miss sent his side crashing out of the competition. Mali will next play the winner of Sunday’s match between Ivory Coast and Nigeria on February 6.

In the other quarterfinal action on Saturday, Ghana took care of business by defeating minnows Cape Verde by a score of 2-0.

The Black Stars, who have yet to suffer defeat in the tournament, got on the scoreboard first via a controversial penalty. Cape Verde defender Carlitos leaned into Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan with his shoulder, causing Gyan to hit the ground. Ghana’s Mubarak Wukaso then finished from the spot.

Wukaso was at it again late, as he scored on a breakaway to ensure Ghana’s progression into the semifinals. Ghana will not be set to face the winner of Sunday’s match between Togo and Burkina Faso, which will take place on February 6.


In the final meeting in a three-match pre-season tournament between rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors, it was River Plate who recorded a 2-1 victory, giving them two wins and a loss over Boca Juniors in the series.

The match, being played in the Argentine city of Cordoba, began in Boca Junior’s favor, as  Los Xeneizes took the lead in the sixth minute from midfielder Walter Ervitti.

The lead didn’t last long, as River’s Uruguayan talisman Rodrigo Mora leveled the score in the 27th minute with a strike through a maze of legs and into the net.

Finally, the game-winning goal came from none other than former World Cup champion David Trezeguet, who latched onto a rebound from a save by Boca goalkeeper Agustin Orion, and slotted home.

The Argentine Primera Division’s Torneo Final begins on February 10.


Americans Jose Torres (Tigres), Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona (Club Tijuana) all started in Saturday’s 2-2 draw that saw Mexico’s top two teams battle to a draw. (REPORT)

AC Milan were unable to acquire Real Madrid midfielder Kaka in the January transfer window because the Spanish side requested an €18 million transfer fee. (REPORT)

Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko, in his home debut for the club, scored twice in a come from behind victory against Chelsea. (REPORT)

Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has decided to remain in New York until his cancer treatment’s finish. (REPORT)

Pachuca CF of Liga MX officially unveiled Argentina forward Fernando Cavenaghi on Saturday after signing him from Villareal. (REPORT)

Stoke City forward Michael Owen could face FA disciplinary action, after video monitors caught him allegedly throwing a punch at Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, during their match on Saturday. (REPORT)


What do you think of these reports? Do you think Real Madrid’s injuries are catching up to them? Do you think Roma made the right decision to sack Zeman? Do you believe that Gyan’s penalty against Cape Verde was legitimate?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. It was Sissoko’s home debut for Newcastle, he played last week at Aston Villa.

    He’s been amazing in his first few matches, playing a Yaya Toure role for them (as many people have pointed out). He was always driving play forward, and besides the two goals, there was a moment where he absolutely beat Ashley Cole for pace from the halfway line.

    If he can keep remotely close to the form he’s shown so far, Newcastle will have made the best buy of the transfer window for the 2nd season running.

  2. Zeman’s sacking should be a big deal to USMNT fans. Under him, Bradley was a constant presence, probably at the expense of De Rossi. If we want an inform Bradley (we really do), the next Roma manager is going to decide who’s at fault in the lineup. Americans always have to prove themselves.

    • Yes I fear that the new coach will somehow “discover” that a certain shaved head American is responsible for Roma’s struggles.

      • Yeah, if that darned American outside midfielder hadn’t been playing so poorly, his poor form wouldn’t have spilled over onto the entire backline and let in 4 goals!

      • Bradley was only playing because he did what Zeman asked of him: run a lot, break up play, and play the ball forward quickly. In terms of talent, Bradley is down the Roma depth chart, so his playing time will dry up in all likelihood.

      • I (hopefully) disagree. The new manager is a long time Roma Technical coach. Speculation in Italy says he may return to their old formation…4-2-3-1, rather than Zeman’s 4-3-3. I think DeRossi and Bradley might fit very well together as the two deep lying mids in front of the defense.

      • Yeah… Running a lot, breaking up plays, and playing the ball forward quickly… why would the new coach want that? Bradley should go to the bench with his lack of talent.

    • So if they are right, Davis and Evans, who were very poor against Canada are in, DIx, Gatt and Feilhabar are out? Eddie Johnson is in and Agudelo is out? This is a great line up …if you loved the first half of the Canada game. Ugh….

      • Two points:

        1.) EJ is the only one of those that might start.

        2.) While Evans was awful at CM, he played RB very well and is more than capable of backing up Chandler & Fabian.

      • I am not particulary upset about seeing EJ, although he looked pretty unimpressive. But Agudelo did more, at least earning free kicks in dangerous places. And yes, Evans did well backing up at right back. But I have zero confidence in JK’s tactical approach, therefore I’m going to assume guilty until proven innocent on the idea that he intends to use Evans in a forward attacking role again. (Unreasonable? Maybe- but given JK’s histroy of using guys out of position, maybe not.)

        As for Davis, exactly what flashes were those? His crossing, which is what he was there for, was very poor.

        Overall, these hints of what the squad may look like sugegsts another ultra conservative approach, and another game where JK’s criteria seems to shift. Fielhabar and Agudelo made better cases than some of the guys who appear to be heading to the game.

      • Also, while Davis’ game against Canada was ultimately forgettable, he did show flashes at times, and his flashes were among some of the only flashes the US did show.

  3. It’s amazing that Cape Verde got as far in the tournament as they did. Would be funny though if USMNT ends up playing Ghana in a third straight world cup next year.

    • Was thinking the same thing Jeremy. They are a resilient people and they will get through this. I was over there in 2000 when they were getting ready to host the ACON and everyone was so proud of their democracy and the fact that they got to show it off to the rest of the continent.


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