Lenarduzzi: Premier League powers in early-season meet
Title contenders Chelsea, Manchester United face off in Monday meeting, with plenty of storylines
Next week will feature one of the few Mondays that people are actually looking forward to, as Premier League fans get an early-season treat when Manchester United host Chelsea.
Many people are picking Chelsea as early favourites to win the title, and one reason is the return of manager Jose Mourinho, who replaces the highly unpopular Rafa Benitez.
The fans are happy, Mourinho is happy, and even owner Roman Abramovich is happy, as Stamford Bridge has suddenly become a place of optimism and positivity. How long that lasts remains to be seen.
Chelsea’s squad features incredible depth in midfield and on the wing, but Mourinho is still looking to add another striker to go with Demba Ba, Fernando Torres, and young Romelu Lukaku. Chelsea have said they will make a third bid for Wayne Rooney following Monday’s match, with United having rejected the first two offers.
Chelsea enjoyed very good results against United last season, and will be looking to make a statement at Old Trafford in this game.
Two-time defending champions Juventus open their Serie A campaign on Saturday away to Sampdoria, who were the only side to beat them in both meetings last season. Juve are coming off an impressive 4-0 win over Lazio in the Italian Super Cup, which included a goal on his debut by new marquee signing Carlos Tevez.
A Sampdoria player that Juventus may be watching in more ways than one is attacking midfielder Nenad Krsticic. Juventus have reportedly shown interest in signing the 23-year-old Serbian international next summer, as a possible future replacement for Andrea Pirlo.
A top-rated prospect when he joined Sampdoria at the age of 18, Krsticic had only been with the club a few months when he was unexpectedly diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and told he might die within 48 hours!
He underwent risky treatment, losing a third of his body weight over the next four months, and eventually beat the disease. He was eventually able to resume his career, and made 23 appearances a season as a Serie A rookie.
Bayern Munich established themselves last season as THE team to beat, and that remains true as the European champions are riding a 27-game undefeated run in Bundesliga play. The streak equals a club record, which Bayern will attempt to break on Saturday as they host FC Nuremberg in the Bavarian derby. History is in their favour, as they haven’t lost to Nuremberg at home in over 20 years.
Bayern are one of six teams with perfect records after two rounds of play in the Bundesliga, while Nuremberg are also undefeated, following a pair of 2-2 draws.
Bayern are now led by former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, who replaced the retired Jupp Heynckes. They feature a strong midfield, which they have added to with the signing of young German superstar Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund as well as bringing in Spanish playmaker Thiago from Barcelona.
Off in a Flash
Midfielder Louis Blake made a memorable debut for Croydon Athletic in last Saturday’s FA Cup preliminary round match against Colliers Wood, but for all the wrong reasons. The 21-year-old subbed into the game in the second half, but after 20 minutes the referee noticed that Blake was wearing black underwear that didn’t match Croydon’s maroon shorts. The ref insisted that Blake go change, even though the youngster protested that he didn’t have another pair. With no other option, Blake went to the change room to remove the offending underwear, and returned to the pitch commando style. Then when the ref asked for proof that the black underwear was gone, Blake obliged, pulling his shorts out for the ref to look down and see for himself.
The ref then promptly produced a red card, sending off the stunned youngster for flashing him!
Bob Lenarduzzi is President of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. For information on Whitecaps FC summer camps visit www.whitecapsfc.com/camps or call 778-330-1354.
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