Wednesday, January 17, 2018

17 January 1920 - A Good Day To Stay At Home

On 17 January 1920, the home teams went undefeated in all 20 matches in England's Football League, as well as the day's two FA Cup games.

At the time, the Football League consisted of only two divisions (though a separate Southern League existed, with two divisions of of its own). While each division consisted of 22 teams, two games were not played, so there were only 20 games total across both divisions.

The results in Division One consisted of eight wins and two draws, including 21st-place Oldham Athletic's 1-0 upset victory of second-place Newcastle. The largest margins were Manchester City's 4-1 win over Arsenal and league-leader West Brom's 5-2 win over Blackburn.

In Division Two, there were nine wins and only one draw, a 1-1 result between Bury and Nottingham Forest, while Lincoln City's 4-0 win over Wolves set the day's largest margin of victory.

There were also two first-round FA Cup matches played that day, with Bradford City beating Portsmouth 2-0 and West Stanley beating Gillingham 3-1.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

16 January 2010 - Messi's Milestone

On 16 January 2010, Lionel Messi scored his 100th goal for Barcelona, becoming the youngest person in club history to hit that milestone.

The goal came in a home league match against Sevilla. The two teams had already met twice that month in the Copa del Rey Round of 16, with Sevilla advancing on away goals after drawing 2-2 on aggregate. In the second leg, which Barcelona won 1-0, Sevilla goalkeeper Andrés Palop repeatedly frustrated Messi, denying him in several one-on-one attempts and preventing him from scoring.

In the league match on 16 January, Palop got off to another good start, keeping the game scoreless through the first half. But shortly after the start of the second half, Barcelona took the lead with a 49th-minute own goal from center back Julien Escudé. A chip from Barça striker Pedro doubled their lead in the 70th minute.

Then Messi struck. In the 84th minute, he scored his record 100th club goal from just outside the six-yard box. At 22 years, six months, and 22 days old, he was the youngest player in club history to score a century. But he didn't stop there, adding another in the first minute of stoppage time to extend the final score to 4-0.

Now eight years later, he has a current total of 611 goals.

Monday, January 15, 2018

15 January 1981 - El Hadji Starts His Pilgrimage

On 15 January 1981, Senegalese striker El Hadji Diouf was born in Dakar. A talented but controversial player, he has spent time with several different clubs across France, England, and Scotland.

He began his professional career with Sochaux in 1998, followed by quick moves to Rennes (1999-2000), and Lens (2000-02). At the latter, he scored 18 goals in 54 league appearances, which--combined with a strong showing for Senegal at the 2002 World Cup in which he helped the team to a quarterfinal berth--attracted the interest of Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier, who signed him that summer for £10 million.

Diouf failed to recapture his previous form and his time at Anfield was overshadowed by a March 2003 UEFA Cup incident in which he spat at a Celtic supporter. At the end of the 2003-04 season--in which Diouf failed to score a single goal--Liverpool sent him on loan to Bolton. There, he began scoring goals again and Bolton made the move permanent in 2005.

After four seasons with Bolton, he moved again, spending time with Sunderland (2008-09) and Blackburn Rovers (2009-11). But his scoring touch deserted him again and he spent the last half of the 2010-11 season on loan in Scotland with Rangers. All along the way, he developed a reputation for being hotheaded, with frequent bookings.

He moved back to England in the summer of 2011 to play for Doncaster Rovers, then joined Leeds United in 2012 after Doncaster's season ended in relegation. He last played for Malaysian club Sabah FA before retiring in 2015.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

13 January 1907 - The Temperature Rises In Turin

On 13 January 1907, Juventus and Torino contested the first Derby della Mole, with Torino winning 2-1.

The two clubs share a history, with Torino forming in 1906 as an offshoot of Juventus. When members of the older club, founded in 1897, considered moving the club out of Turin, a group that included Alfredo Dick created a new club to guarantee a continued presence in the city. The derby's name comes from Turin's  landmark building, the Mole Antonelliana.

They met for the first time in the 1907 Italian Championship, playing a two-legged tie for the right to represent Piedmont in the final round. Torino hosted the first leg at the Velodrome Umberto I and won 2-1 with goals from Federico Ferrari Orsi and Hans Kempher (Juve's goal was scored from the penalty spot by Ernesto Borel). They then won the return leg 4-1 to advance 6-2 on aggregate, but lost the title to Milan.

To date, the teams have played a total of 237 times, with Juventus winning 102, including the most recent meeting on 3 January 2018 in the Coppa Italia. Torino have won 73 times.

Friday, January 12, 2018

12 December 1949 - A Born Leader

On 12 December 1949, two-time Club Coach of the Year Ottmar Hitzfeld was born in Lörrach, West Germany.

As a striker, he enjoyed a successful playing career, including a spell with Basel (1971-75) in which he won two league titles and was once the league's top scorer. After subsequent stints with Stuttgart (1975-78), Lugano (1978-80), and Luzern (1980-83), he moved into management, starting with SC Zug (1983-84) and Aarau (1984-88).

But he rose to prominence with Grasshopper Zürich, where, between 1988 and 1991, he guided the team to two league titles and two Swiss Cups. That earned him a move to the Bundesliga where he led Borussia Dortmund to the championship in 1995 and 1996, then lifted the Champions League trophy in 1997. The latter performance led the IFFHS to name him their Club Coach of the Year.

He then moved to Bayern Munich, where he won another four Bundesliga titles, including the 2001 title when he also claimed a second Champions League trophy. That year, IFFHS again made him their Club Coach of the Year.

Hitzfeld left Bayern in 2004, but returned for a second spell in 2007 and won yet another league title, then left in 2008 to manage Switzerland, where he stayed until his retirement in 2014.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

11 January 2008 - Yeah, It's All Smiles Now, But Just Wait

On 11 January 2008, Bayern Munich announced that Jürgen Klinsmann would replace outgoing manager Ottmar Hitzfeld at the end of the season, but it was a match that didn't last.

Klinsmann, who played briefly for Bayern during a career that also included stops at Stuttgart, Inter, Monaco, and Tottenham, had held only one prior managerial post, but it was an impressive one. Guiding the German national team from 2004 to 2006, he retooled the administration of the entire organization, from the youth team up. But after taking the senior side to the World Cup semifinals in 2006, he stepped down, citing his intention to rest and spend more time with his family.

But in 2008, Bayern lured him from retirement, announcing in January that he was going to take the team over in July, replacing Hitzfeld (who went on to win the league title--his fifth with Bayern--that year, as well as his third German Cup).

Klinsmann proceeded to restructure the club as he had done with Germany, starting with a new player development center. But toward the end of his first season, his relationship with the board of directors had soured. Even though Bayern had reached the semifinals of the Champions League and were sitting three points out of first in the Bundesliga with five games still to play, the board sacked Klinsmann.

After another two-year break, Klinsmann returned to football as manager of the United States from 2011 to 2016.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

10 January 2010 - Marta Takes Five

On 10 January 2010, Marta won her fifth consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year award.

After finishing third in voting for 2004 and second in 2005, the Brazilian forward finally won her first World Player of the Year award in 2006 while playing for Umeå in Sweden, then repeated as winner in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, she moved to the US to play for the Los Angeles Sol and finished the season as the league's top scorer, leading to her record fourth World Player of the Year award (Lionel Messi matched that record with a fourth award of his own in 2012).

When Los Angeles folded in January 2010, she joined FC Gold Pride, who selected her with the first pick in  the WPS supplemental draft. She repeated as the league's top scorer that season and helped Gold Pride win the WPS Championship with a 4-0 win over Philadelphia on 26 September. Just over two months later, she was named World Player of the Year for a fifth time, setting a new record.

She came close to extending the record in 2011 and 2012, but finished second in the voting for both years, first to Japan's Homare Sawa and then to the USA's Abby Wambach.