Thursday Kickoff: Clubs lining up for Vidic; Spanish powers post Copa wins; and more

Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United

By IVES GALARCEP

As if Manchester United’s nightmare season couldn’t get any worse, it is looking more and more like the club could be losing its best defender this summer.

Serbian center back Nemanja Vidic is in the final six months of his current contract and drawing interest from several top clubs, including multiple teams from Serie A.

Though David Moyes has been quoted as calling Vidic the best defender he has ever worked with, Manchester United has yet to reach an agreement on a new deal.

Losing Vidic would be a big blow for a club that hasn’t really found a dependable replacement for the aging Rio Ferdinand, who appears likely to leave the club this summer as well. With the likes of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones not having the dominant presence of Vidic, Moyes could find himself on the market for a central defender or two this summer. Assuming he is still the manager at Manchester United.

Here is a rundown of some more stories from Thursday morning and late Wednesday to get your day going:

BARCA, REAL MADRID POST FIRST-LEG WINS IN COPA DEL REY SEMIS

Spanish powers Barcelona and Real Madrid took major steps toward a seemingly inevitable meeting in the Copa Del Rey final after posting strong home victories in their semifinal first legs on Wednesday.

Barcelona posted a 2-0 victory against Real Sociedad, with a Sergi Busquets goal, and a comical Real Sociedad own goal, proving the difference in a match that saw Sociedad play down a man for more than half the match due to a first-half red card. Perhaps the most surprising sight at the match was that of empty seats in a half-empty Camp Nou, which led at least one Barcelona player to criticize the Barcelona fans who failed to turn out.

Real Madrid ran out 3-0 winners against Atletico Madrid in their Derby semifinal first leg, with two of Real Madrid’s goals coming courtesy of fortunate deflections. The clash of Madrid clubs was a physical affair that saw plenty of ugly challenges and physical play, as well as claims of racial abuse aimed at Real Madrid defender Marcelo by Atleti fans.

Both semifinal second-leg match-ups will take place next week, with Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid returning home needing big victories to overturn their first-leg setbacks.

BRAZILIAN CLUBS SECURE COPA LIBERTADORES GROUP STAGE PLACES

Brazilian club sides Botafogo and Club Atletico Paranaense both secured their places in the Copa Libertadores group stage, but did so with varying degrees of difficulty.

Botafogo posted a 4-0 second-leg thrashing of Ecuadorian side Deportivo Quito on Wednesday, overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit in dramatic fashion. Wallyson scored the first three goals for Botafogo.

Atletico Paranaense needed penalty kicks to dispose of Peruvian side Sporting Cristal in a second-leg clash that featured four red cards. Cristal looked to have a place in the Libertadores group stages booked before a penalty called in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time allowed Atletico to score the series-tying goal.

QUICK KICKS

Michael Laudrup is seeking legal advice after being unceremoniously dumped as manager of Swansea City, and revealed on Thursday that he wasn’t even allowed to bid farewell to his players.

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Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher revealed details of his ordeal battling a medical condition that threatened to end his career.

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Former Brazilian national team striker Alexandre Pato is on the move again, having reportedly been traded by Corinthians to Sao Paulo in exchange for Brazilian national team midfielder Jadson. Pato has struggled to make his mark at the 2013 Club World Cup champions after joining the team for a Brazilian League transfer fee-record price of 15 million Euros.

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What do you think of these developments? Where could you see Vidic winding up this summer? Do you see him returning to Manchester United? Who do you see winning Copa Del Rey? Will you be following Copa Libertadores more closely this year?

Share your thoughts below.

 

This entry was posted in European Soccer, Featured, South American Soccer, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Thursday Kickoff: Clubs lining up for Vidic; Spanish powers post Copa wins; and more

  1. froboy says:

    The situation at Corinthians is crazy, fan groups invaded the training grounds allegedly trying to break Pato (and another players’) legs.

  2. Matt P says:

    Just saw that Ghana is playing Costa Rica and Honduras in LA prior to the cup…imagine most of the folks here question those teams as stand-ins for the USA.

    • Increase0 says:

      Well I certainly do question it. They aren’t the same thing but close enough. But the difference is more like the one between France and Spain. France doesn’t do Tiki Taka but their game is still a passing based game like most European sides.

    • bryan says:

      and Portugal is gonna play Mexico.

  3. Cool Hand Luke says:

    Vidic may leave, but we’ve still got Tom Cleverly! *puts the shotgun in his mouth*

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Man U has been so stable at manager for so long — 27 years with one manager — that you wonder how long they wait before taking action. I think they were an over-achieving team with a leaky defense last season that just won enough 3-2 games to take the title. The attack has tailed off this season and they became ordinary, and I think Moyes’ underdog counterpunch style is not the way you want to play at an overdog side. People kind of finessed it but Fergie won European hardware with ABERDEEN of all teams, and Moyes once won the second division with Preston, but generally has made his name merely by having plucky teams that just make the final or get into Europe, but don’t bear the expectation of winning.

      • Bean says:

        I have to agree. They were not a good team for the last two years prior to this season. They did not do well in European competition, and I think that they won the league last season because there were not any challengers. Mancini, Wenger, and Rafa were struggling, Tottenham not up to it, Liverpool still on the rise. Players were trying to leave the club as well. I think that the core of the team is not up to snuff, and a total rebuilding needs to take place.

        I have to admit that I am a Liverpool supporter, but that’s just how I see it.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          Januzaj is a good, young player they can build around. But generally speaking I agree. I like RvP but he’s been hurt and is 30. Rooney is mercurial and has 12 years’ mileage on him (Owen started falling apart roughly the same time frame). Chicharito is interesting and young but has shown with Mexico he’s not a team-carrier. Behind them, the midfield and defense are non-descript and arguably not the equal of their league competitors. de Gea can make amazing gymnastic saves but also amazing mistakes. They no longer have Fergie to squeeze more than the sum of the parts out of them.

          Man U has typically done well in periods where a group of young, talented players emerge together. Beckham/Giggs/ etc. for instance was the 90s version. Another uptick when they brought in Rooney/ Rio/ etc. last decade. They rode the RvP acquisition last year. Moyes brought in Fellaini, who has underwhelmed, a couple people who disappeared, and now Mata. Meh. Since I don’t think Moyes is a wine from water type like Fergie, I think they have to spend and buy a core. If he’s not gone already, in which case the next guy has to.

      • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

        I’m a big Man U fan and I agree. This is hard to watch. I really can’t understand how Moyes can be THIS incompetent. They have played something like 23 games and he has fielded 23 different line-ups. C’mon man, at least settle on a line-up (injuries not withstanding.) You can tell he really doesn’t know who to play or where to play them. I though Rio had a great season last year – they managed his back health very well. So tell me, when you defense is this bad, why can’t he get a game. Also read this morning that Man Utd didn’t think Jose would be up to the job at United so they didn’t even offer it to him but he made it know he wanted it. Weird…

  4. Joe says:

    Vidic isn’t sticking around at Man U if they aren’t in the Champions League next season. Who else is probably leaving? Chicharito? Kigawa?

  5. Matt says:

    Very loud crowd in a fesity Copa del Rey derby last night. Real Madrid fans chating “Diego Costa no es Espnaol”. I guess a few countries have a few chants about dual nationalities. Just shows how much Europe’s mentality is generally club over country where US is country over club. Just how soccer developed in the US.

  6. Strider257 says:

    Its really difficult to evaluate Moyes at this point. Between aging defenders (Vidic & Rio), injuries left and right (RvP, Rooney, Fletcher, etc.), and other complications one can make any statement one wants and find at least some justification for it. The key will be who is brought in during the summer transfer window. If United bring in some good defenders (Evra is getting old too) and at least another strong midfielder this team can do well next year. BUT, the proof is in the results and we’ll have to wait and see about that.

  7. Strider257 says:

    Just to add a bit more, when you look at last weekend against Stoke where you had both of your center backs have to leave the game due to injury, you are really restricted on options. Has anyone heard the prognosis on Jones?

  8. Darwin says:

    Agudelo just scored a beauty for Utrecht in front of the home fans, and they are singing his name. Took advantage of a mistake, spun his defender, then roofed his shot. As I write, he should have had an assist.

    Looking very good in the game. Very involved in the attack and checking back for the ball and defending the left flank.

  9. bird says:

    Beautiful goal by Agudelo a couple minutes ago and he just had a nice pass which should have resulted in a goal that his teammate missed. He is looking VERY good right now keeping possession and making good decisions.

  10. Darwin says:

    Halftime stats for Agudelo by Opta (via squawka.com).

    Put in the best performance (MoM @ 45), earning points for contribution to attack (goal, etc..) and defense, but loses some points from up and down possession.

    won 2/2 take-ons
    won 2/2 tackles
    won 2/2 headers
    made 1/1 clearances
    1 goal in 3 shots.
    3/3 shots on goal.
    completed 11/17 passes (65%) affecting his possession stats.
    Earned 1 free kick at the edge of the box.

    • bryan says:

      he keeps this up, he’s going to Brazil. sorry EJ, Gomez, and Wondo.

      Jozy, AJ, Agudelo, Boyd will be there. if JK names 5 strikers, then it’ll be Dempsey or LD and the other will be listed as a midfielder.

  11. Darwin says:

    Here’s Agudelo’s goal. We can always count on Johan Derksen for our our Eredivisie yanks.

    link to imgdumper.nl

    • Marcelo Balboa's Mustache says:

      great link! thanks. :)

      totally agree. He keeps this up, he goes to Brazil. If Juan stays healthy, he’s going to be a very very good striker in a few years.

  12. Darwin says:

    Straight red to Sarota. Utrecht down to 10 men.

  13. Darwin says:

    Agudelo turns on the jets to intercept a pass, but is fouled and earns a yellow. Very quick on his feet there.

  14. Darwin says:

    PEC Zwolle equalize. 1-1.

  15. Darwin says:

    PEC Zwolle up 2-1 now.

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