Tuesday Kickoff: Puyol doubtful for Euro 2012, Blackburn relegated and more

Puyol (Getty Images)

Spain's European championship title defense is going to be a bit more challenging, as a vital component to its back line is unlikely to be available for the world's No. 1-ranked team.

Carles Puyol is doubtful for this summer's tournament after Barcelona announced that their captain and 34-year-old centerback requires arthroscopic knee surgery that will sideline him for around the next six weeks.

Puyol, who is one cap shy of 100, will have the surgery on Saturday, a little less than a month before La Furia Roja open their tournament against Italy on June 10. The surgery also rules him out of the remainder of Barcelona's season, which includes the Copa del Rey final — Pep Guardiola's last match as club manager. 

Puyol might not be the only key player to miss out on this summer's tournament either, as Barcelona striker David Villa is still a major doubt as he returns from a broken leg and has to regain peak fitness in a short time period to convince Vicente del Bosque he is worthy of a spot on the roster.

Here are a few more stories to get your Tuesday going:

BLACKBURN RELEGATED, WIGAN STAY UP

Blackburn's futile season is officially sealed.

The club clinched its place in the Premier League's bottom three on Monday with a 1-0 loss to Wigan Athletic, one that also cemented Wigan's place in the Premiership for next season after a torrid run of form to cap off the season.

Antolin Alcaraz' 87th-minute goal was the match-winner for Roberto Martinez' side, but the real talking point from the match came when Blackburn supporters, undoubtedly furious with how the season unfolded, threw a live chicken donning a Blackburn flag onto the field at Ewood Park as a sign of protest toward club owner Venky's, an India-based chicken company. For a club that had such grand visions before the season began, it will be playing in the League Championship next season for the first time since 2001.

Blackburn will be accompanied on the trip down to England's second-tier by Wolverhampton and either Bolton or Queens Park Rangers.

WEST HAM A STEP AWAY FROM PROMOTION

While Blackburn is on its way down to the League Championship, West Ham is a step closer to returning to the Premier League after a comfortable 3-0 victory over Cardiff City to take their promotion playoff semifinal on a 5-0 aggregate.

Sam Allardyce, the manager who was axed by Blackburn and took over at West Ham, is a win away from returning to the top flight. West Ham will face with Blackpool or Birmingham City in the promotion final on May 19, with Jonathan Spector's Birmingham needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit at home in Wednesday's second leg. Reading and Southampton claimed the two automatic promotion places.

STRAMACCIONI WINS INTER JOB 

Andrea Stramaccioni passed his test.

The interim Inter Milan manager will shed that label and become the club's permanent coach, president Massimo Moratti said, after leading the club to a victory over rival AC Milan over the weekend. 

The 36-year-old Stramaccioni became Inter's third boss of the season after taking over for Claudio Ranieri, who replaced Gian Piero Gasperini. As it stands, Inter will miss out on European competition next season, but Stramaccioni can alter that fate by leading the club to a victory over Lazio this weekend. Fourth-place Lazio lead Inter by two points for one of Italy's two places in the UEFA Europa League.

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Do you think Spain can win Euro 2012 without Puyol and/or Villa? Who is to blame for Blackburn's demise? Impressed with Wigan's late run of form? Which team do you see securing the final promotion place to the Premier League? Think Stramaccioni is the right man for the Inter job?

Share your thoughts below.

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12 Responses to Tuesday Kickoff: Puyol doubtful for Euro 2012, Blackburn relegated and more

  1. Felix says:

    Its a shame about Puyol, I loved always watching his fire and passion on the pitch. He’s a prototypical national team captain.

  2. Yellow Submarine says:

    To take a step further, he’s the prototypical “leader”.

    He’s had many memorable moments in his career for various reasons, but him breaking up the celebration of Thiago/Dani Alves is one of his better moments.

    Why? Because that’s what a leader does.

    Can’t wait to see him become a manager, if he chooses to go that route when he’s done. That’s the kind of person/player/manager you follow into battle.

  3. Herb says:

    Prediction: ronaldo scores several braces and a hat trick as Portugal wins Euro 2012

  4. 2tone says:

    Germany is looking more and more like the team to beat at the Euros.

  5. JG13 says:

    Since Inter is such an old club, I wonder if Stramaccioni has any interest in Bradley. They could definitely use his motor in their midfield but it would likely be a serious reduction in minutes for MB.

  6. biff says:

    So true, and the header goal against Germany in the WC 2010 semi-final shows how great players will not be stopped. Reading the news on Puyol’s injury, everybody saying what a big blow this is for Spain in Euro 2012 and how the team will have to fight to overcome his loss. The guy is 34 years old and some USMNT fans (yeah, me too, from time to time) are fretting about Boca (32) and Dolo (33) being too old. Even the Jermaine Jones haters complain about him being an old man at 30. Anyway, seems kind of ridiculous to be worrying about the “age factor.” Maybe instead, we should be happy to have that kind of experienced gritty competitive fearless spirit on the USMNT as we begin WCQ.

  7. Vic says:

    Is it better for Sebastian Lletget if West Ham stay in the Championship?

  8. Matt says:

    Correction:
    Ronaldo rolls around on the ground like the fairy he is 20 times in the first 15 minutes, blows a wide open net, and never gets involved in the game again

  9. Old School says:

    Prediction: ronaldo scores several braces and a hat trick as Portugal wins Euro 2012

    Clarification: On EA Sports Euro 2012 video game (not real life).

  10. Alex says:

    I think its great that Stramaccioni. After all the turmoil at Inter’s coaching position, having a young man with ideas as well as flexibility (that point can’t be stressed enough) wwe may see another competitive Inter side. I’d expect to see that team looking for some younger signings. Maybe an American?

  11. steve says:

    Funny, I was thinking the same thing – Bradley to Inter! make it happen!

  12. bryan says:

    “Miller drops Rangers bid”

    “By late Monday night, it became clear to me that preliminary information, discussions and analysis were, unfortunately, more optimistic than reality.

    “Having no intention of negatively affecting the potential outcome of the club’s future and after hearing the message from Rangers supporters and fans loud and clear (“Yank go home!”), I notified the administrators today that I have withdrawn my bid for Rangers and will not be moving forward.”

    F Rangers. Boca, Edu, Bedoya…get out of there.