The news had been rumored and speculated upon for weeks within informed circles of the Spanish press, but the reality of Josep "Pep" Guardiola confirming his decision to leave Barcelona is a blow that no amount of advanced warning will soften for the millions of fans who follow the Catalan club around the world.
It says something of the standards the 41-year-old set at the Camp Nou that being knocked out of the semifinals of the European Champions League - a result that relinquished Barca's grip on the continental title - and a defeat to arch-rivals Real Madrid which all but ended a compelling fight for the Spanish crown, were deemed failure enough for his trophy-laden tenure to come to an end. FULL POST
Chelsea's staggering Champions League victory over Barcelona proves that sport at the highest level can still shock us, defy all the odds and leave us open-mouthed and scratching our heads.
It proves that, despite the specter of corruption and match-fixing, the playing field is still a level one. That even if sponsors and governing bodies want the most entertaining or marketable sides to prevail, star teams don't win by right. Like anyone else, they must earn victory.
With Chelsea down to 10 men, their captain sent off, losing 2-0 and Barcelona's fearsome Camp Nou jubilant - be honest, what were you thinking? How long until Messi scores? Will it be a record win for the European champions, who were seeking a fourth title in six years? Who will Barca face in the final? FULL POST
(Editor's note: Ed Foster is the associate editor of Motor Sport magazine. He is also an F1 pundit for CNN's World Sport show.)
Why hasn't Red Bull won a race so far this year? What's happened to Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber? Last year the German driver turned up at every track expecting to win, such was the dominance of his car. However, this year it's all changed.
Mercedes has won its first race since 1955, McLaren has started the year with a quick car, and Ferrari most certainly hasn't. Is Red Bull's dominance finally over? It is for now, but don't expect double world champion Vettel to be happy not taking that checkered flag and showing us all that "victory finger" of his.
For those that are wondering what's happened since the black and white flag was waved in Brazil last season, here's some insight from the paddock:
While the soccer world sharpens its hyperbole for Wednesday’s European Champions League semifinal first leg between Chelsea and Barcelona, another arguably more important match will take place on the other side of the world between two teams from two troubled countries.
In the neutral environment of the United Arab Emirates, the Egyptian national team – led by former U.S. coach Bob Bradley – will take on Iraq, a side now being marshaled by Brazilian legend Zico. There will be few column inches to elucidate the result. FULL POST
Why always me? That was the message revealed by Mario Balotelli on his t-shirt when he scored in Manchester City’s 6-1 win at Old Trafford back in October. A lot has changed since that game, which seemed to herald a real power swing in the English Premier League, but that moment helps explain a lot of what has happened to the young Italian striker and his club during the business end of this season.
City's hopes of a first league title since 1968 have crumbled well before Manchester United get the chance to avenge that embarrassing defeat later this month, and at the same time the career of one of soccer's most promising talents is hanging in the balance.
Instead of being hailed for his goals and undoubted skills, the 21-year-old is best known for his onfield petulance and a series of high-profile off-field incidents which can only be a huge embarrassment to City's Abu Dhabi owners.
Whether it is for setting off fireworks in his house and destroying his bathroom, telling police he carries a lot of cash because he is rich, crashing his luxury car, or admitting to dating an escort, Balotelli's personal life can be compared to a bad comedy series. And now his professional future is at stake. FULL POST
Golf has just been injected with a breath of fresh air, and it’s taken a dramatic Masters Tournament for the golf world to fully appreciate what it now has on its hands.
Bubba Watson is the new Masters champion. Very few could have predicted that he would have the tenacity to bring this one home, despite recent good form and an outrageous talent to boot.
"Bubba Golf," as he calls it, can only be played by the owner: Booming drives, all played with shape, allied to a hit-it-find-it-and hit-it-again approach. It's very refreshing on the professional golf circuit. He plays the game in a unique way, relying totally on creative shot-making that cannot be taught. FULL POST
It could have been the week the famed Augusta National made history. It could have been the week the club announced its first female member - nearly 80 years since its inception back in late 1932.
Instead, current chairman Billy Payne stuck to his guns and refused to discuss whether tournament sponsor IBM's new CEO Virginia Rometty would be considered for membership just like her four male predecessors.
It was a packed press conference at the National on Wednesday when the chairman gave his annual address to the world's media. I counted maybe five different attempts - including my own - to get Mr. Payne to elaborate further on his stance that the club simply doesn't comment on membership matters. But to no avail. FULL POST
Augusta National, where the Masters Tournament is being played for the 76th time, is without doubt the place to be in world golf right now. It is a venue that strikes a chord with even the most casual of sports follower because of its unique qualities.
It’s the only one of professional golf’s four “majors” to be played at the same venue each year. It awards a green jacket to its winner and guarantees an annual invitation to that special player to play in the tournament for the rest of their competitive career.
It celebrates the values of its founder Bobby Jones through its tight rein on old-school adherence to etiquette and tradition. In other words, you behave yourself! It is no surprise that Augusta's club president refused to comment publicly this week on the debate over female membership - it is not their style.
There is no other place quite like Augusta and, as a result, demand for tickets is at a premium. Grown men, captains of industry and regular golf fans are all like children anticipating Christmas. This is the Disneyland of golf and, quite simply, the only show in town. FULL POST
Perhaps you have seen this statistic before: Since January 1, Liverpool have picked up only eight points in the English Premier League. Only Wolves, rooted firmly to the bottom of the table, have been worse.
Yes, these are trying times for a club that once dominated domestic and international football. With only seven matches remaining, the Reds are closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League places and seem to be heading nowhere fast. One thing is clear, a change of direction is needed and it is needed now.
At various times this season I have been criticized, on my blog and on Twitter, for writing that Kenny Dalglish should be sacked as Liverpool manager. Surely now, even the most passionate fans have to start questioning their idol and the role he should have at the club. FULL POST
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