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Posted on: July 13, 2010 1:23 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2010 9:26 pm
 

World Football: 7-13-2010

Welcome to the first of what will hopefully be numerous blog entries regarding association football around the world. I have been a fan of the beautiful game for years now, but this is the first time I have actually posted any sort of blog regarding the world of football. To me, it made sense to wait until after the World Cup to post such an entry since most of the fair-weather fans (who pretend to be knowledgeable about the sport once every four years) would be gone. Anyways, here goes the very first edition of World Football. 
  • CESC FABREGAS Leans Toward Arsenal- After the Spanish national team arrived in Madrid after their World Cup final victory, Barcelona players Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué were seen (albeit jokingly) forcing a Barcelona jersey onto Arsenal player Cesc Fabregas. These sights came no more than a day after Fabregas said he was proud at Arsenal, heaping quite a bit of praise on the club. After new Barcelona president Sandro Rosell revealed new details regarding the financial situation of the Catalan club, it seems difficult to believe that Fabregas is as keen as staying with Arsenal as he claims to be. It is inevitable that Fabregas will be donning the Barcelona colors at some point in the near future, but it seems as if he wants the move to happen a bit sooner than realistically possible.
  • MESUT OZIL To Stay At Werder Bremen- Mesut Ozil, one of the many young stars for the German team at the World Cup, has indicated that he wants to fulfill the remainder of his contract with current club Werder Bremen. Ozil has been the target of a few English clubs, specifically Arsenal (although Manchester City and Chelsea were somewhat involved) ever since the beginning of the 2009-2010 season. Even if Cesc Fabregas does leave Arsenal, the club would likely wait until the end of the upcoming season to make any sort of move on Ozil. It seems as if the Werder Bremen staff are taking quite the gamble on Ozil resigning with them next summer, when his current deal expires. No one should be surprised if some of the top clubs pursue Ozil when that time comes.
  • Real Madrid Pursuit Of MAICON Cooling Off- After his Inter Milan side beat Bayern Munich to win the Champions League final in late May, Right Back Maicon expressed his interest in following manager Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid. It seemed imminent as first, but the chances of a move significantly decreased after his agent (Antonio Caliendo) expressed that Maicon is happy staying with Inter. Given that Inter Milan value Maicon at almost twice what Real Madrid are willing to pay, it is looking much less likely that he will leave the club. Unless Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti has a surprising change of heart, it does not look like Real Madrid would pay such a ludicrous price for a player who plays the same position as highly regarded defender Sergio Ramos.
  • Brazilian League Resumes After Break- After a month long break to make way for the World Cup, the Campeonato Brasileiro (Brazilian Championship) will resume tomorrow. The current leaders, Corinthians, lead Ceara on goal difference. Both teams have recorded 17 points in seven games. Fluminense, despite almost being relegated last year, are currently in 3rd place due to the hiring of Muricy Ramalho. Championship favorites Santos are in 4th place, while defending champion Flamengo are 9th in the table. In the last couple of years, many Brazilian stars have returned back to the league of their home country, making the Campeonato Brasileiro worth watching even once the Premier League, La Liga, and Bundesliga seasons have started come late August.
  • THIERRY HENRY To Join New York Red Bull- There does not seem to be any doubt that Thierry Henry will announce that he is joining New York Red Bull sometime within the next few days, and with his arrival, Major League Soccer will have reeled in a player who was twice the runner-up as World Player of the Year (as well as the biggest signing since David Beckham three years ago). With New York already second place in the Eastern Conference, they instantly become legitimate contenders to win the MLS Cup come November. In addition to Henry, other European players have considered careers playing in the United States. Ryan Giggs of Manchester United has also claimed that Major League Soccer is definitely a realistic possibility if he is still young enough.
Posted on: March 29, 2010 11:17 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2010 11:44 pm
 

Washington Nationals 2010 Season Preview

Spring is in the air, and we are less than a week away from the start of the 2010 MLB season. For the Washington Nationals, there is hope that this new season will yield more success for a team that has failed to reach 60 wins for two consecutive years. With a new batch of players, the Nationals hope for a big improvement on last years result.

The Nationals enter the new season with several new additions to the starting lineup. One of the more interesting names is Catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Rodriguez is clearly in the twilight of his career, but the Nationals feel that he could still be an effective player behind the plate. He has seen a somewhat sharp decline in productivity the past few years, but has played well so far in spring training. The Nationals are hoping that he can retain this solid form during the regular season. Another interesting addition that Washington made during the offseason is Second Baseman Adam Kennedy. After a somewhat successful season last year in which he recorded 153 hits and stole 20 bases, Kennedy looks to be a big help to the Nationals squad if he puts up these types of numbers once again this year.

While many of the changes Washington made in their lineup were necessary, there was one that has confused many in the Baseball world. This was Jim Riggleman awarding the starting Shortstop position to Ian Desmond. Despite the fact that Cristian Guzman had found great success at the position, Riggleman seems to have lots of confidence that Desmond is the best man for the job. It is quite a risky move by Riggleman to say the least.

All of this considered, the Nationals expect that stars Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn will meet or exceed the numbers they put up last year. This is a must if they want to have a significant improvement in such a tough division in 2010. Nyjer Morgan will be in his first season with the Nationals, and the team hopes that he will develop into one of the leagues premier players very soon. He clearly has the talent to develop into such a player, and his performance on the field will be one of the biggest factors contributing towards the Nationals success this year.

Elsewhere in the outfield, the Nationals have questions. Josh Willingham was decent in Left Field last year, but the team hopes he can get back to the form he was in a few years ago before he joined the team. In Right Field, there is question as to who gets the starting job. Willie Harris appears to have the edge over Willy Taveras, as the former has done very well this spring. For Harris, it is important that he posts numbers that resemble the ones he has posted so far this spring, and not the ones he posted in his poor season last year. Otherwise, he will obviously lose the job to Taveras. It seems as if a platoon situation between them is likely, and would probably be in the teams best interest.

Despite all of this, the Nationals pitching rotation has garnered more attention so far during the offseason. The Nationals have added Jason Marquis to the pitching rotation, which is arguably one of the biggest additions of the offseason. He will start behind John Lannan, giving the Nationals a somewhat decent top two in the starting rotation.

Much of the question that surrounded the Nationals pitching situation was centered around the bottom of the rotation. Riggleman named Craig Stammen and Livan Hernandez the third and fourth starters respectively, leaving only one spot remaining. This is going to be a tough decision between Scott Olsen and Garrett Mock. Once both assured of a spot in the rotation, both of these players have become desperate to win the final spot. Both players have failed to reach their potential in their respective careers, and it is not likely that this season is going to change any of that. Nevertheless, one of them will have to produce with Jordan Zimmermann out for the vast majority of the season.

Yet if things go according to the Nationals plan, they might not have to rely upon those two for too long. First overall pick Stephen Strasburg could possibly enter the rotation by the middle of the season. Washington has made wide choices so far in not rushing Strasburg into the MLB. Many were caught up in all of the Strasburg hype and wanted him in the rotation right away. When that time comes, Nationals fans will realize it was worth the wait.

The bullpen looks to be stronger for the Nationals in 2010 than in previous years. Matt Capps was acquired as the closer, filling a void the Nationals have had for a while. Capps was another one of the Nationals biggest offseason additions, and his arrival means one less thing to worry about for Baseball fans in the federal district. Brian Bruney and Sean Burnett will also likely be successful relievers in the upcoming season. Washington has lots of possibilities in the bullpen this season, and this is one of the reasons fans think that better days are ahead.

Baseball fans in Washington are really looking for this team to deliver, and they are confident that the team can be successful this year. Of course, for this team, success would be reaching the 75-win plateau and a fourth-place finish or higher in the National League East. The Nationals are definitely capable of that this time around, and fans of the team should expect them to reach this goal. Whatever happens, we will all be reminded why we love this game in less than a week. This really is the greatest game in the world, and as the MLB slogan says, we live for this.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com