The End of The AD Hall

April 13, 2009

football

Thanks to everyone who has kept up with this blog over the past year, in either manifestation. I’ve decided it’s time to narrow the scope of what I cover every day as I just can’t keep up anymore with everything that’s going on. Between a full-time job, a part-time job, getting ready to move across the country, writing a newsletter and all the rest, I’m shutting down The AD Hall. That’s not to say that it won’t still exist. You can still check out the archived posts whenever and I’ll have a link to this site from my new space. But after this post, you can count on The AD Hall being down for good.

I’ve stayed within WordPress for my next adventure in blogging and can now be found at mao’s Football. Since The AD Hall was turning into a mostly-soccer blog anyway, I decided to dump the rest and focus just on soccer going forward.

Thanks again. We had well over 30,000 page views since we moved here to WordPress in July 2008 and over 650 posts. I hope everyone enjoyed it and if you are still into soccer, come check me out in my new space.

Cheers


Premiership Predictions – Week 32

April 10, 2009

epl

Just seven matches remain for most clubs on this season so several teams have a lot of work to do. One example is Middlesbrough who are deep in the relegation zone. If they have any chance of not playing in the Championship next season they have to beat Hull City at the Riverside tomorrow. Newcastle are in a similar position and have an away date with Stoke City. Certainly a winnable match but also a necessity for a club in as much trouble as are Toon.

Back at the top, Liverpool will need to respond to the beating they took at the hands of Chelsea in the Champions League mid-week in hosting Blackburn. Should be no problem but with Gerrard possibly missing the match, you never know. Chelsea host Bolton in an attempt to make up some last-minute ground on Liverpool and Man United. Meanwhile, United travel to Sunderland for a match against the seventeenth place Black Cats. After several difficult weeks, will Sunderland be the antidote for United? And Aston Villa will host Everton in a match that will help determine the final European qualification spot, fifth place. Villa have been in possession of at least fifth for many weeks with Everton patiently moving closer each week. The Toffees can take fifth with a win but it would have to come at Villa Park.

Saturday:
Blackburn @ Liverpool – Liverpool
Bolton @ Chelsea – Chelsea
Hull City @ Middlesbrough – Boro
Manchester United @ Sunderland – United
West Ham @ Tottenham – Spurs
West Brom @ Portsmouth – Pompey
Arsenal @ Wigan – Arsenal
Newcastle @ Stoke City – Draw

Sunday:
Everton @ Aston Villa – Everton
Fulham @ Manchester City – City

Results Thus Far:

Week 1 – 19 points
Week 2 – 16 points
Week 3 – 12 points
Week 4 – 13 points
Week 5 – 13 points
Week 6 – 27 points
Week 7 – 14 points
Week 8 – 22 points
Week 9 – 18 points
Week 10 – 19 points
Week 11 – 11 points
Week 12 – 10 points
Week 13 – 16 points
Week 14 – 13 points
Week 15 – 9 points
Week 16 – 18 points
Week 17 – 11 points
Week 18 – 14 points
Week 19 – 15 points
Week 20 – 23 points
Week 21 – 21 points
Week 22 – 20 points
Week 23 – 21 points
Week 24 – 14 points
Week 25 – 23 points
Week 26 – 11 points
Week 27 – 16 points
Week 28 – 19 points
Week 29 – 22 points
Week 30 – 16 points
Week 31 – 19 points


Another Nice Day for the Home Sides

April 10, 2009
hamburg

Paolo Guerrero and Hamburg Push City to the Brink

Three of the four UEFA Cup ties in the first leg of the quarterfinal round went to the home sides while the fourth ended in a harmless nil-nil draw.

After Stephen Ireland scored in literally the first minute of action for Manchester City, Hamburg responded with three goals of their own and gave Hamburg a 3-1 home victory at the AOL Arena. Joris Mathijsen answered almost immediately with his 9th minute goal while Piotr Trochowski (penalty) and Jose Paolo Guerrero broke the match open with their mid-late second half goals. The fact that City lost away is not at all surprising as that has been their regular status domestically. Perhaps salvaging an away goal will give them an advantage on the return at Eastlands.

At the RSK Olimpiyskiy, Tomas Hubschman and Rodrigues Jadson straddled half-time with their goals as Shakhtar Donetsk defeated Olympique Marseille 2-0 in Ukraine. Amazingly, at this late stage in a European competition, the biggest rivalry in Ukraine could come to pass in a final in Istanbul (Shakhtar-Dynamo).

Diego continued his fine run of form for Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup by tallying a brace at the Weserstadion in a 3-1 victory over Udinese. Hugo Almeida gave Bremen a 3-0 lead before Fabio Quagliarella scored a very late goal to at least tack one away goal on the board for Udinese. This match up is a very important one for Italy in general as Udinese are the last Italian club left in Europe. If they cannot earn a spot in the semi-finals or finals, it is possible that Italy would earn only three Champions League positions rather than the four they currently enjoy (I think not until the 2010-11 season though).

Finally, a relatively calm match saw Paris Saint-Germain host a nil-nil draw with Dynamo Kiev. While PSG have to be pleased that their efforts resulted in a clean sheet at home, they’ll need to be more active while in Kiev to advance through to the semi-finals.

The return legs will be played next week.


UEFA Cup Quarterfinals Today

April 9, 2009

uefa cup

Having just passed two interesting days in the Champions League, the UEFA Cup retakes the European stage today. All four quarterfinal first legs will be played today. I won’t break them down as I do Champions League but here are at least the match-ups and where they’ll be played. I’ll have scores and comments this evening.

Olympique Marseille v. Shakhtar Donetsk (RSK Olimpiyskiy)
Manchester City
v. Hamburg (AOL Arena)
Dynamo Kiev
v. Paris Saint-Germain (Parc des Princes)
Udinese
v. Werder Bremen (Weserstadion)


Barcelona and Chelsea Prevail

April 9, 2009

messi

With two draws on the first day, yesterday’s matches were surprisingly, even shockingly one-sided. Starting at the Camp Nou, Barcelona thrashed Bayern Munich 4-0. Amazingly, that was the half-time score. Lionel Messi scored twice and assisted on Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry’s goals. Messi almost had his hat trick but a fantastic save by Bayern keeper Hans-Jörg Butt kept the fifth goal off the scoreboard.

So what does this all mean? Well for starters it completely confirms my thoughts going into the match that recent domestic success (or failure) has a big impact on how a club plays in Europe. With a full month in between matches, this Bayern side was simply not the only that clubbed Sporting Lisbon over the head. Barcelona have the most explosive offensive output in this tournament. Bayern are not as good as some of the English clubs but I think we have to consider Barcelona the favorite going forward.

Meanwhile, at Anfield Chelsea came back from an early deficit to rout their English rivals in Liverpool, 3-1. Fernando Torres scored in the sixth minute for the Reds, but that was all they would muster against the more competent Blues. Branislav Ivanovic earned goals on headers six minutes before half and again twenty-five minutes later. In the 67th minute, Didier Drogba put Liverpool out of their misery with a third away goal and a comprehensive victory. Really, only Torres played well for the Reds. Everyone else on the pitch found himself outmatched by his Chelsea counterpart. Particularly strong for Chelsea was Michael Essien.

So I ask again, what does this mean? Liverpool have a huge uphill battle if they want to reach the semi-finals. Trailing by two goals on aggregate and having given up three away goals is no way to make a strong case. It is possible though, to win at Stamford Bridge, especially as the Blues will be without skipper John Terry whose accumulated yellow cards will keep him out of the return leg. But interestingly the idea I put out yesterday that the first home side have been at a disadvantage in recent Champions League meetings between Liverpool and Chelsea has held true, at least so far.


Champions League Quarterfinals First Leg Day Two

April 8, 2009

After yesterday’s draws, two more Champions League matches grace us with their presence this afternoon.

Chelsea @ Liverpool
We’ll start in England where Chelsea will travel to Liverpool in an all-England clash at Anfield Road. Both clubs have been playing well lately and are currently third and second place in England. This is the fifth consecutive year that these two clubs will meet in a knock-out round of the Champions League. Last season of course Chelsea won in the semi-finals and advanced to Moscow where they would lose to Manchester United. Liverpool had won previously in semi-finals including 2005 when they defeated AC Milan in Istanbul.

So what of this match? In each of the past two years the home side in the first leg has been at a disadvantage, allowing away goals and eventually losing on aggregate in the second leg. So can Chelsea get on the scoreboard more than once at Anfield, even if they don’t win the match? Odds are yes. Liverpool are a strong side but they won’t be able to give the home fans a clean sheet and thus put themselves in jeopardy for the second leg.

Prediction: Liverpool 2 – Chelsea 2

Bayern Munich @ Barcelona
The other quarterfinal today is an odd case. Bayern unmercifully thrashed Sporting Lisbon in the last round and were hailed as favorites to win the cup. But a very poor run of form lately in Germany have seen Bayern fall off the pace near the top of the Bundelisga, including a 5-1 destruction at the hands of Wolfsburg just last weekend. Barça have been playing very well and are in firm control of La Liga, having withstood a strong, late challenge from Real Madrid.

With today’s match at the Camp Nou, expect the fireworks to be on display from Barça. Bayern are a strong club for sure but they can’t possibly play as well as they did in the round of sixteen. And however much Liverpool apologists would like to claim, current domestic play does make a big difference in mid-week Champions League matches.

Prediction: Barça 3 – Bayern 1


Porto!

April 7, 2009
mariano

Mariano's Equalizer for Porto, a Stunning Result

Is this the spirit of 2004? Mariano’s 89th minute equalizer gave the Portuguese side a 2-2 draw at previously impenetrable Old Trafford against Manchester United. Cristian Rodríguez and Wayne Rooney traded goals in the first fifteen minutes, setting up a long spell of 1-1 football. Late substitute Carlos Tevez scored what appeared to be the match-winner in the 85th minute. But somehow Mariano appeared unmarked in the waning moments, knocking in the tying goal.

While Porto could easily lose at the Estadio do Dragão in the return leg, this draw does set them up very nicely. The two away goals especially will give them a lot of ground to work with in the return. But for United, what happened. Did they just expect a victory at their hallowed ground? Did they fall asleep after the Tevez affair appeared to send them to glory?

Meanwhile, in a simultaneous match at El Madrigal, Arsenal used Emmanuel Adebayor’s incredible volley to draw 1-1 with Villarreal in Spain. Though star Marcos Senna had given the Yellow Submarine an early lead on ten minutes, the Gunners’ response via Adebayor gives the English side great hope in the return leg. Not only did they acquire the much-needed away goal but the quality of the strike that did it should be inspiring going forward.

Tomrrow’s matches feature Barcelona at the Camp Nou against a very much out of form Bayern Munich as well as the vastly intriguing Chelsea-Liverpool front leg from Anfield Road. So far no side has emerged as favorite so we’ll have to see what happens tomorrow.


Champions League Quarterfinals

April 7, 2009

cl

The Champions League returns this afternoon with the first set of first legs of the quarterfinals. I’ll preview the other matches tomorrow. But for now:

FC Porto @ Manchester United
United have not been playing anywhere near the level they were playing when they last played in the Champions League. Over the past few weeks they have lost twice and given up a bevy of goals. They are still atop the English table but there are some weaknesses that are finally being exposed. Additionally, Rio Ferdinand is not expected to be match fit which greatly diminishes the United defense.

On the other side, Porto have been on a fantastic run domestically. They’ve won almost all of their past twenty matches and are playing in high form. While they slipped into this round compliments of a nil-nil home draw against Atlético Madrid at the Estadio do Dragão, Porto are a side that is very dangerous for Man United. Yet it is still very difficult to win at Old Trafford, especially for European foes.

Prediction: United 2 – Porto 1

Arsenal @ Villarreal
This match will be at the Estadio El Madrigal, a tough place for visitors to play. The Spanish side had a lesser opponent in the first knock out round against Panathinaikos and so their relative strength remains to be seen. Domestically, Villarreal have won just nine home matches this season (and just thirteen overall), good for a distant fourth place in La Liga.

Arsenal have been playing much better in England than they were when the Champions League last took place. They barely made it by Roma, winning on penalties in Rome four weeks ago. Since then the Gunners have made their case as a serious club in England, pushing solidly into a Champions League qualification spot for next year. But starting this round away could prove difficult for Arsenal, even as they have improved greatly in England.

Prediction: Villarreal 2 – Arsenal 2


United Respond

April 5, 2009

macheda

A Ronaldo brace and Federico Macheda’s debut goal in the 90th minute saw Manchester United edge Aston Villa at Old Trafford to regain first place in the Premiership. John Carew and Gabriel Agbonlahor scored to give Villa a 2-1 lead but Ronaldo and Macheda, just a teen, scored in the final ten minutes to snatch three points for United. The win puts United one point ahead of Liverpool with an extra game still to be played. Villa remain in fifth place but are now on thin ice as Everton are lurking just a point behind.

Speaking of Everton, the Toffees used a double from Jo and goals from Marouane Fellaini and Leon Osman in the second half to crush Wigan, 4-0 at Goodison Park. The thrashing of the eighth-place side powers Everton to within a single point of earning a European qualification spot. Catching Arsenal for fourth is highly unlikely but Villa appear ready to be overtaken. As mentioned, Wigan are in eighth place, just a point clear of Fulham.


Liverpool Back Out Front

April 4, 2009

yossi

Yossi Benayoun’s extra-time strike sent Liverpool back to the top of the English table with a 1-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage. The Cottagers went ninety full minutes without allowing Liverpool on the scoreboard but could not hold off for the final minutes of injury time. The Reds find themselves two points clear of Manchester United at the top, though they’ve played two games more than the defending champions. Fulham remain in ninth on 40 points.

At Ewood Park, Benni McCarthy and Andre Ooijer scored within the final eight minutes to steal a 2-1 victory for Blackburn over Tottenham. Spurs scored early on from a Robbie Keane penalty but could not keep Rovers from dropping two into the net in the final moments. The three points today could possibly have saved Blackburn’s season as they are now five points clear of relegation. Spurs stay in eleventh place, where they finished last season.

Arsenal whipped Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium, 2-0. Emmanuel Adebayor’s brace carried the Gunners past one of the worst away sides in England. Arsenal push even further clear of Aston Villa for the final Champions League qualification position while City stick in tenth place, just ahead of Spurs on differential.

In Alan Shearer’s debut at the helm for Newcastle, the Magpies fell meekly to Chelsea, 2-0 at St. James’ Park. Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda scored within nine minutes of each other in the second half to power the Blues to victory. Chelsea are now just a single point behind Man United for second place, though again, United have played two fewer matches. Toon stick in the relegation zone, though in eighteenth position. They’re now three points shy of seventeenth.

Junior Stanislas and James Tomkins straddled half-time with goals for West Ham United as the Hammers beat Sunderland 2-0 at Upton Park. Taking nothing away from West Ham, Sunderland are just three points clear of Newcastle for the final relegation position. But the Hammers are in much better shape, clearing Wigan and taking seventh place, at least for now.

Kevin Davies, Gary Cahill, Matthew Taylor and Ricardo Gardner spread out their goals over the course of their match with Middlesbrough earning Bolton Wanderers a convincing 4-1 victory at the Reebok. Gary O’Neil’s 38th minute goal was all Boro could manage. In the process, Boro remained mired in the depths of relegation. Bolton push back toward the middle of the pack, earning a spot in twelfth place, eight points clear of relegation.

West Bromich Albion confirmed its status as a terrible club in losing 2-0 at The Hawthorns to Stoke City. Ricardo Fuller and James Beattie tallied goals for Stoke as they powered up to thirteenth place and six points clear of relegation with the three points earned. The Baggies remain DFL, where they have been for quite some time.

Finally, in a battle of clubs needing three points desperately, Hull City and Portsmouth did themselves no favors in a sorry nil-nil draw at the KC Stadium. Even when Pompey went to ten men on Glen Johnson’s second yellow card in the 80th minute, Hull could not find the goal. Now, the clubs are five and four points clear of relegation, clearly a disaster match for both sides.


Premiership Predictions – Week 31

April 3, 2009

epl

After a week off for World Cup qualifying matches, many of the stars of the Premier League will be on relatively short rest this week. Especially those players who play in South America.

Manchester United, though still with an extra game to play, are just one point ahead of Liverpool atop the table. Their home date with Aston Villa can help determine both the fate of United and the last-gasp hopes of Villa to get back into the Champions League race. Chelsea will visit St. James’ Park for the first match of the Alan Shearer era at Newcastle. I expect a raucous crowd and perhaps some extra adrenaline to carry Toon to a nice result. Elsewhere, West Brom and Stoke battle near the bottom and Hull and Pompey will fight to stay above the relegation line.

Saturday:
Tottenham @ Blackburn – Blackburn
Manchester City @ Arsenal – Arsenal
Chelsea @ Newcastle – Draw
Sunderland @ West Ham – Sunderland
Middlesbrough @ Bolton – Bolton
Stoke @ West Bromich Albion – Draw
Portsmouth @ Hull City – Pompey
Liverpool @ Fulham – Liverpool

Sunday:
Wigan @ Everton – Everton
Aston Villa @ Manchester United – United

Results Thus Far:

Week 1 – 19 points
Week 2 – 16 points
Week 3 – 12 points
Week 4 – 13 points
Week 5 – 13 points
Week 6 – 27 points
Week 7 – 14 points
Week 8 – 22 points
Week 9 – 18 points
Week 10 – 19 points
Week 11 – 11 points
Week 12 – 10 points
Week 13 – 16 points
Week 14 – 13 points
Week 15 – 9 points
Week 16 – 18 points
Week 17 – 11 points
Week 18 – 14 points
Week 19 – 15 points
Week 20 – 23 points
Week 21 – 21 points
Week 22 – 20 points
Week 23 – 21 points
Week 24 – 14 points
Week 25 – 23 points
Week 26 – 11 points
Week 27 – 16 points
Week 28 – 19 points
Week 29 – 22 points
Week 30 – 16 points


Premiership Predictions Week 31 – Philip’s Picks

April 3, 2009

uk

Written by Philip Oliver, a professional sports writer who blogs about the Premier League and soccer gambling.

Saturday:

Blackburn v Tottenham – Draw
Spurs are high on the form table and are finally able to eye Europa League qualification rather than just survival. Rovers are still very much in that relegation battle and might have to make do with a point, as they have done in the last three league visits of Spurs.

Arsenal v Manchester City – Arsenal
City have scored once in gaining one point from their last five away games and will struggle to improve that record at now free-scoring Arsenal. This should be the weekend’s home banker and a wise football bet to make.

Bolton v Middlesbrough – Draw
Bolton are very nearly safe and a win against struggling Boro will surely seal their survival; a home win will perhaps also condemn the visitors, who are five points from safety and dangerously low on confidence. They are short of goals and might need a clean sheet to gain a point.

Hull v Portsmouth – Portsmouth
Pompey have lost only once in five games under Paul Hart (to Chelsea) and another three points, which would take them above Hull, will continue their march to safety. Hull’s own relegation battle will go to the wire but they at least have the points on the board.

Newcastle v Chelsea – Chelsea
The reality of the situation is dawning on Newcastle, who are in the relegation zone for the first time since early November. They are leaking far too many goals and will finish the day in the bottom three.

West Brom v Stoke – West Brom
The Baggies are eight points from safety and are drinking in the last chance saloon – one league win all year suggests a win here against travel sick Stoke is simply putting off the inevitable.

West Ham v Sunderland – West Ham
Two points from the last 15 means Sunderland’s revival is long-forgotten. West Ham are running out of steam but are still hot favourites to win this one.

Fulham v Liverpool – Liverpool
Can Fulham do to Liverpool what they recently did to United? Nine wins from 15 home fixtures says they can, but Liverpool are buzzing and can certainly keep the title race alive here.

Sunday:

Everton v Wigan – Everton
Sixth plays seventh at Goodison Park, but only the home side can be sure of European qualification. Wigan have started scoring again but will find chances hard to come by in this one.

Manchester United v Aston Villa – Man Utd
Both managers will want a reaction from their teams after recent heavy defeats by Liverpool, but the home side are far-better equipped to deliver. They might not hit Villa for five, but this is surely a home win, a sign of how badly the Midlanders have slipped.


Scotland Still Alive

April 1, 2009

scotlandScotland held off Iceland for the second time today at Hampden Park for a 2-1 victory and renewed hope that continued strong play could earn them a spot in the playoff to reach the 2010 World Cup. Ross McCormack opened the scoring in the 39th minute, finally giving the Scots a goal at Hampden. But Indridi Sigurdsson’s 54th minute equalizer stunned the Tartan Army and put Scotland’s hopes on hold. Just ten minutes later though, Steven Fletcher tallied Scotland’s second goal and gave the home side the lead for good.

No one in Group Nine will be catching the Dutch as they cruised to their fifth win in as many matches in qualifying play. But second place is now Scotland’s. The hope would be that this important victory will carry over through the summer and serve as an inspiration in the match in Norway in August. Perhaps by then the myriad injuries can be overcome for a complete squad.

Also today, England scraped by Ukraine with a rather lucky 2-1 victory. Peter Crouch scored early for England, who held that lead for most of the match. But in his return to England, Andriy Shevchenko tallied an important goal as a substitute to draw the Ukrainians even in the 74th minute. John Terry earned the home victory for the English though with his 85th minute goal from close-in.

England did not need the victory as they were already in first place in Group Six, but taking five wins from five matches is a nice run for the side who did not even qualify for Euro 2008.


Big Day in World Cup Qualifying

April 1, 2009

Both England and Scotland will take part in World Cup qualifying matches today as the Scots host Iceland and the English host Ukraine. Scotland’s woes and slight chances in Group Nine have been chronicled here over recent days. England are right out in front of Group Six with a chance to almost assure qualification with a victory over Ukraine.

Ukraine are in second place (on differential) in Group Six and can do themselves a world of good with a win at Wembley today. They are tied on seven points with Croatia who play Andorra today, which is all but a guaranteed win. So the Ukrainians need a result of some kind to keep pace and hope for a second place finish. The English press are of course acting like today’s match is do-or-die for their side. But really it is a somewhat insignificant match, though it is always nice to do well at home. There is plenty of wiggle room though with a five-point lead atop the group.

Scotland on the other hand are in a desperate position. Iceland and Scotland are tied on four points (with Iceland ahead on differential) as the lowest scoring second-place teams in all of Europe. If that remains the case, whoever finished second would not even make the qualifying playoff for second places teams (only the top eight go on). Additionally, Scotland have not fared well at home in the George Burley era. For whatever reason, the Scots have not been able to score goals at Hampden Park, traditionally a location of huge advantage. But after Saturday’s crushing defeat in Holland, perhaps fan support will be more skeptical in this match.

The Scots did defeat Iceland in Reykjavík last fall but continue to face huge injury problems and now the suspension of Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor after a rowdy ‘drinking session’ at Loch Lomond after the Holland defeat on Saturday. It may all be coming undone for Burley and the Scots so I really don’t expect to see much of a quality result today.

Predictions:

Scotland 1Iceland 1
England 2
Ukraine 1


Champions League Moving to FOX

March 31, 2009

fscAfter this season is completed, the Champions League will be moving to the FOX Soccer Channel for the foreseeable future.

It’s not that ESPN has done a bad job. In fact I’ve been happy that ESPN has started covering more than one Champions League match per week (one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday) and always shows the final. For five years now I’ve watched as many of the matches as are available here in the States. And I even really enjoy the back-and-forth with Derek Rae and Tommy Smythe from the ESPN studios where the remotely call the games. That will be missed. And ESPN has in a way pioneered soccer on tv here in the States having held the rights to the Champions League (and its earlier equivalent) since the 1994-95 season.

But I’m happy any time ESPN loses out on even a tiny piece of the monopoly they’re trying to build across all sports. With Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, NBA, Monday Night Football and damn near every major conference’s college sporting events, not to mention the World Cup, early round Masters and myriad other events, ESPN has more than enough to get by. The FOX Soccer Channel does an excellent job of covering many different international leagues, including the English Premier League. Their matches are well-covered, the analysis is nice and unlike ESPN, available. FOX has pre-game, half-time and post-game shows where fans, especially casual ones, can learn a lot about the teams playing and the league in which the play. ESPN does none of that in this country.

One downside to this move is the availability of FSC is nowhere near that of ESPN or ESPN2. FSC appearing in around 35 million homes while ESPN reaches about 100 million (again, just in the US). But pure numbers of households does not automatically translate to viewership. In the 27 Champions League matches during last season, ESPN averaged about 255,000 households (I’m assuming that includes bars). The final in Moscow between Chelsea and Manchester United drew in about 800,000 households (and just over a million individual viewers). Of course any final between two English teams is going to be more highly viewed in this country. I’d love to see the numbers for the 2004 final between Porto and Monaco.

If FOX can get even 1% of its total households in the US to view Champions League matches each week, it will average almost 100,000 more viewers than ESPN ever had. The truth is that millions of people get ESPN but almost none care about soccer. That is evident in the numbers. 0.0026% of ESPN receivers actually tune in for the average Champions League match (which almost always includes at least one English club). People who get FSC are much more likely to watch it because there is no chance of seeing anything other than soccer on the network. In other words, you can’t be flipping through the channels and stumble on the FOX Soccer Channel and expect anything less.

I’ll be interested to see how the new coverage comes out. I’m happy that ESPN has carried the torch thus far. Let’s all hope that FOX can do an even better job of bringing us the world’s game.