April 20, 2014

Neil’s Norwich On The Brink

The post Neil’s Norwich On The Brink appeared first on FootyBlog.net

Today’s 3-2 defeat at the hands of Liverpool appears to have sealed the fate of Norwich. They have three games to survive, but those games are away fixtures to Manchester United and Chelsea and a home tie against Arsenal. With no signs of improvement and an inexperienced glorified academy coach at the helm, the near future is bleak.

A majorly disappointing season for Norwich has left them languishing in 17th place in the Barclays Premier League, just 2 points above the drop zone. A series of high profile flops along with damaging defeats to those teams that lay around them, has meant that they have only won 8 matches all season.

The departure of Chris Houghton was expected, if a little unfair, but their fortunes have remained the same. The man brought in to push Norwich up the table was Neil Adam’s, who was victorious in the FA Youth Cup with Norwich’s U-18’s last season. Since his promotion from within, Norwich still look lacklustre and uninspired, and it is surely just a matter of time until reality strikes.

There are a number of reasons Norwich are where they are. First of all, and most importantly, are the players. They have simply not been up to it, with a few exceptions. The players from last season have not pushed on, and the new arrivals have flattered to deceive. Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper have not lead the line well enough and have not merited their excessive price tags, whilst Johan Elmander looks far from the player that pulled on a Bolton shirt in his final year at the Reebok, instead, he looks like the player from his first two seasons with the Trotters.

For me, apart from promising displays from the likes of Leroy Fer and Nathan Redmond every now and again, only Robert Snodgrass has looked up to it, but the fans still took a disliking to him and booed him for a period of time.

It was obvious that Chris Houghton had to go, but the timing of his dismissal has and will end up costing them. Houghton should have gone at the end of a disappointing season, Premier League safety or not, instead they brought in a new man with little experience of the big time and asked him to do the impossible. Hughton’s season had been disappointing, but his track record speaks for itself and if anyone was going to stop the rot, it was going to be the man who was responsible for it. Instead, in the words of another failed manager Rene Meulensteen, the Norwich hierarchy decided to push the “Panic Button.”

Chris Houghton for the majority of the season looked depleted and beaten but the odd result against big teams offered hope, however their inconsistency has cost them and they were never able to push on. As has been the case for a lot of teams this season, Norwich have massively underachieved, but it is going to end up costing them dearly. I don’t know what Delia’s feeding them, but it is not working.

I cannot see them picking up any points in their remaining fixtures, whereas Cardiff, Fulham and Sunderland have a chance, and one win for either of those teams puts Norwich in the bottom three and sees them playing against Brentford in the 2014/2015 Championship season.

To see the Match Report from Norwich Vs Liverpool follow this link

The post Neil’s Norwich On The Brink appeared first on FootyBlog.net

April 18, 2014

George's Premiership Predictions April 19 2014

bet365Of the three teams with a realistic chance of winning the Premier League, Manchester City play an in-form Southampton at home, Liverpool travel to east London to face West Ham, Chelsea play Stoke at Stamford Bridge hoping to put their poor display away to PSG in the Champions League.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Tottenham 1 v Fulham 1
Cardiff City 1 v Stoke City 0
West Ham 2 v Crystal Palace 1
Newcastle 0 v Swansea City 0
Aston Villa 1 v Southampton 3

Sunday 20 April 2014

Chelsea 3 v Sunderland 1
Norwich City 1 v Liverpool 1
Hull City 2 v Arsenal 2

Monday April 21 2014

Everton 1 v Man Utd 2

Tuesday April 22 2014

Man City 2 v West Brom 0

Man City 11/8 For A Trophy-Less 2014/15

One point from two games means that Manchester City will do well to add to their Capital One Cup success this season with bet365 now betting on their trophy haul for 2014/15.

bet365 spokesman Steve Freeth "It wasn’t so long ago that we were quoting 40/1 about Manchester City landing an unprecedented quadruple, but League Cup win aside, Pellegrini's first season has petered out over the last couple of months.”

"The owners may be looking for an upgrade on the Capital One Cup next season."

Total 2014/15 Man City Major Trophies

None 11/8 One 11/10 Two 5/1 Three 25/1 Four 300/1

Soccer - Ronaldo ready to greet Bayern Munich

Cristiano Ronaldo could give Real Madrid a timely boost by returning for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first-leg showdown against Bayern Munich. The 29-year-old has not played for the capital club since first picking up a knee injury and then a thigh complaint in the Champions League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund on 2nd April. The Portugal talisman had to watch from the stands on Wednesday as his team-mates secured coach Carlo Ancelotti his first trophy in charge of Los Blancos in a 2-1 win against fierce rivals Barcelona in the final of the Copa del Rey at Valencia's Mestalla. The former Manchester United favourite said he was hoping to be back for the crunch visit of Pep Guardiola's Bundesliga giants to the Santiago Bernabeu. "I'm really happy. I wanted to play and help the team but my team-mates did a great job. I'm getting better, now I don't feel any pain," Ronaldo told the club's official website. He added: "I might be back in time for next Wednesday or perhaps the second leg of our Champions League tie. "Bit by bit I'm feeling better and what I want more than anything is to be able to help the team out as soon as possible." Real Madrid are three points behind leaders and city rivals Atletico Madrid in La Liga and are quoted 7/5 by bet365 in the outright betting. Ancelotti's Treble-chasers can also be backed at 11/4 to win this season's Champions League.

Soccer - Wenger hints at Ozil return

Club-record signing Mesut Ozil is expected to make his Arsenal return in Sunday's FA Cup final dress rehearsal against Hull City, manager Arsene Wenger has suggested. The £42.5million deadline-day capture from Real Madrid has not played since 11th March after picking up a hamstring injury against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Wenger revealed the Germany international "should be available" for the trip to East Yorkshire to take on Steve Bruce's men at the KC Stadium. The Frenchman also revealed long-term injury-victim Abou Diaby is expected to make his long-awaited return to first-team training on Thursday. The luckless 27-year-old has not played for an entire year because of a serious injury but Wenger played down suggestions he could make his comeback between now and the end of the season. "Abou is back in full training on Thursday," Wenger added. "It's very difficult to say [if he will play this season] because he has not played for over a year now, and it's very difficult for me [to decide]. He looks physically fine, but he has to play one or two games before I consider bringing him back." Hull have only lost six of 17 home games so far this season in the Premier League and are quoted 7/2 by bet365 in the 90 minutes market, while the draw is available to back at 11/4. Arsenal are currently priced at 3/4 for the away win.

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April 17, 2014

What is wrong with Barça?

Bale's wonder strike capped a miserable season for the Blaugrana

Marc Bartra heading an equalizer and Neymar hitting the post in the final of the Copa del Rey encapsulated Barcelona's hit and miss season, while Real Madrid march on.

Barça might be third in La Liga but more worryingly failed to make the last four of the 2014 Champions League. Meanwhile, memories of being thrashed 7-0 on aggregate last season by the young pretender Bayern Munich are still raw. Times are tough down the Camp Nou.

The most recent clasico saw a crazy league clash at the Bernabeu end 4-3 to the Catalans, so in last night's Spanish Cup final in Valencia, both sides began more defensively.

The blaugrana entered the changing rooms at half-time a goal down to their arch rivals, yet made an energetic fight-back and deserved to draw level. Barça then had the upper hand for a while at 1-1 before some Gareth Bale magic and a Neymar miss settled the tie.

This was more fading Catalan grandeur under the microscope. The mesmerising tiki-taka through the middle had largely gone, replaced by a few short exchanges before the ball was spread to the flanks for a lob into the box from Andres Iniesta or Daniel Alves, neither of whom are natural wingers.

Iniesta, Xavi and especially Lionel Messi were often invisible and many a cross found a white shirt. It was as if they were mourning former totem Pep Guardiola so much they had tried to ape Bayern's style, yet without the requisite type of player.

Alves wasted many touches and looked angry and frustrated. Messi saw one shot saved but dropped deep and influenced little. Neymar was elusive for both Real's defence and his attacking teammates.
Fabregas pulled a few useful strings in midfield but the ensemble did not convince in any meaningful way. The ferocious pressing of a few years back was nowhere to be seen. This was a Barça, if not firing blanks, then revolving at 33rpm instead of 45.

Real employed their familiar anti-Barça plan of counter-attacking at speed, with flat blanks of four behind them. Cristiano Ronaldo was out injured yet Angel Di Maria and Bale had plenty of velocity to make up for him and both scored. Indeed, it has been said that Bale plays better when Ronaldo is not there stealing his space, while similar things are whispered about Messi and Neymar.

Di Maria was particularly dangerous in the first half while Bale, far from energetic throughout, bided his time until a golden chance sprung up twenty minutes from the end and he was able to switch on his deadly afterburners.The Welshman's 50-yard run and strike was a wonder goal, but Barcelona had left their back door open for him to steal in.

They had a total of six in the opposition box when Daniel Carvajal headed Messi's cross out to begin the move. Barcelona were not alive to the risk of a swift counter so when Fabio Coentrao played the ball quickly upfield, Bale had already ghosted clear of Sergio Busquets, who jogged back exhausted and unable to give chase.

The fleet-footed Cardiffian had spied yards of open grass ahead and as the ball was played to him close to the halfway line, a scoring chance was already on the cards. Bartra's attempted obstruction was no obstacle as the Welshman just sprinted around him, invading Barça's technical area momentarily before bearing down remorselessly on goal. Kick and rush still works.

Barcelona are four points off the top with five games to go, third behind two teams who unlike them are still in the Champions League. Having lost the Copa del Rey, it looks like a trophy-less season for the team dubbed the best of all time when they won the last of their European Cups, three years ago in London.

So what has gone awry?

For a start there is the age question. Is the backbone of the side getting long in the tooth? And if so why was young starlet Thiago sold to Bayern and two promising youngsters loaned out - Gerard Deulofeu to Everton and Bojan Krkic to Ajax? At 36, Carles Puyol is in his final season, Xavi is 34, Alves 30 and Iniesta and Mascherano 29. Yet Pique is 27, Fabregas, Messi  and Pedro 26 and Busquets 25, while Neymar is only 22.

Neymar's nine goals in 25 outings is a moderate return so far on his £46.8 million transfer, but time is on his side and his stock should surely rise after this summer’s World Cup Finals.

The Brazilian of course was at the heart of a transfer scandal involving tax evasion which ended up with Barcelona’s President Sandro Rosell resigning over tax evasion in February. Further investigations into the club's recruitment of under-18 boys ended with FIFA banning the club from buying any players until the summer of 2015.

What was strange was that the club was warned a year before and did nothing to change its practices, as if it felt it was untouchable. Whispers have long circulated that UEFA has a soft spot for Barça, yet blaugrana aficionados have countered with the theory that Real Vice-President Pedro Lopez Jimenez was the driving force behind the ban, abusing his position on FIFA’s Player Status Committee.

Yet unless an appeal succeeds, Barça will have to go through all of next season without reinforcement from outside the club at a time when the youth system is not producing superstars. On and off the pitch, this season has been one of anguish.

While in theory boardroom activities should not leak onto on-field actions, the bad headlines and press attention for the wrong reasons cannot have helped the squad’s morale as they registered disappointing results.

Surely a side boasting the world’s greatest player should not be moaning one might think, but Messi has not been sensational this season. He was injured for a total of almost three months and found the changing system means he has less influence in attack than before.

There are murmurs that he is keeping something in reserve for the World Cup Finals in June, a suspicion not helped by the permanent presence at the Camp Nou of an Argentine F.A. physiotherapist. The FIFA World Cup would of course be the jewel in Messi’s crown and put him on an even footing in the annals with his nation’s hero Diego Maradona.

Perhaps the malaise is largely a prolonged hangover from the wondrous era of Guardiola which ended two seasons ago. It was almost impossible for that golden age to be replicated or topped, and a radical transformation of the club is required instead of producing perennially pale imitations.

Tito Vilanova was unlucky to be diagnosed with cancer barely a season into his job, meaning Gerardo Martino was handed the poisoned chalice of a great side having peaked and needing overhaul, while bearing the psychological imprint of its former leader, an unenviable task much like David Moyes' at Manchester United.

What Guardiola honed of course was a system everyone understood, a playing style based on short diagonal passing triangles creating an attacking force which advanced up the middle until it crashed like a wave on the edge of the opposition's penalty box.

Understanding the system came from having being schooled in La Masia and having played together for so many years that it became telepathic. Yet Martino & Neymar are newly arrived from another continent and other clubs. Martino has tried to install a more direct approach than before, but without the time to procure the players necessary for a new system, a muddle has ensued.

The Argentine's appointment looks decidedly like a stop-gap until the club land their intended fish, in much the same way it callously used Bobby Robson for a season until Louis Van Gaal became available. Yet who that special one is we will have to see.

The club probably should have reinforced the defence given Puyol's recurrent knee problems and found a quality partner for Piqué instead of making midfielder Javier Mascherano play at centre-back. It could also have invested in genuine wide men if that was the system to be used, but instead went for the marquee signing of Neymar.

Scoring more goals than the opposition is one way to win games, but a club neglects its defence at its peril and it appears Barcelona are less interested in backline recruitment. If Bayern are the leaders in world soccer right now it seems sensible to learn from them.

The Bavarians press like the Barça of old, have recognizable strikers and in Frank Ribéry and Arjen Robben two world-class widemen. But they are also physically impressive and perhaps Barcelona should improve their speed and strength to compete with the likes of Bale, Ronaldo and Guardiola's new boys.

At the end of the day however, Barcelona, as its motto reminds us, remains 'more than a club' and its star will rise again. Soccer success comes in waves and there is no guarantee of sustaining it. Golden generations never occur on a regular basis and when a crop of several top players arrives at once but is not replicated for years, the reasons are never clear.

The competition across Europe is also fierce with millions being invested by arriviste oligarchs and sheikhs in new powers like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain to add to the existing powers in England, Germany and Italy. With the rise of Atletico Madrid, Spain itself is now hosting a three-horse dynasty for the first time in years.

The blaugrana will rise again, there is no doubt. With a vast sold-out stadium about to be expanded to 105,000 seats, a long history of being run by its members and its greater symbolism in Catalan folklore, there is no prospect of F.C. Barcelona continuing to decline as a football power.

But this is one season they will want to airbrush out of the official history.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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Why UEFA Cannot Fail The Fair Play Test

The post Why UEFA Cannot Fail The Fair Play Test appeared first on FootyBlog.net

The news this week that UEFA are investigating the finances of fewer than 20 clubs in accordance with their Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations isn’t surprising. Nor is it particularly a shock that the two biggest names on this list are Manchester City and Paris St-Germain.

The FFP rules were brought in to force clubs to live within their means and to discourage clubs from spending well beyond what they can afford in pursuit of success. It also means that, in theory at least, rich benefactors who take over a club cannot pour money ceaselessly into the club and run it at a huge loss, in an attempt to win trophies.

That should set alarm bells ringing if you are a Manchester City or Paris St. Germain fan.

From 2011 to 2013, City have made losses of £149m. The average wage of a player in their squad is over £100,000 per week and they have one of the largest squads in the Premier League. In 2012/13 City’s annual turnover was €316m, of that €46.2m came from matchday revenue, €103.1m from TV revenue and most surprisingly €166.9m from commercial revenue.

It is this final figure which is a bone of contention for many. A huge amount of that money comes from City’s $642.2m 10-year deal with Etihad as the club sponsor. This was almost a third more than the previous biggest sponsorship deal, Manchester United’s 13-year deal for $486m with Nike.

In annual terms, this means that the previous biggest deal saw Manchester United earn $37.38m a season from their Nike contract. City’s deal with Etihad saw them earn $64.22m a season. Almost $27m more per season.

The problem with this is what have City achieved in order to attract such an investment? They have won the Premier League in 2012 and the FA Cup, but they have performed poorly in Europe and are yet to reach the quarter final stages of the Champions League.

If clubs who have regularly performed well in the Champions League and domestically, such as Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea cannot attract anywhere near this level of investment, how can Manchester City?

Is it the economic climate? Certainly at the highest level, football is attracting even greater investment, so their is likely to be an increase in commercial revenue. So it is fair to assume that as City gain an increasing presence in Europe, so their commercial arm will see greater turnover.

However, the main sticking point it this: UEFA imposed strict clauses in their FFP terms which stated that clubs are not allowed to artificially inflate their worth by arranging commercial deals with companies that they already have existing links with.

Unfortunately for City, Etihad, the $642.2m sponsors of the club, are a company owned by the Abu Dhabi government and have long been associated with Sheikh Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family who just happens to be the owner of Manchester City.

The key issue is not so much that Etihad sponsored City, but that they paid a fair market price for doing so and that the figure wasn’t artificially inflated to help City’s financial position look markedly better. On that score, and given the evidence we’ve already mentioned pertaining to other top clubs in Europe, that does seem to be a legitimate concern.

The fact of the matter is, City’s success in recent times in no way explains why the club have managed to attract an investment which is almost a third better than even the very best European clubs, regular winners of the Champions League, can attract in the same market.

In effect, this would be like the top clubs in the Premier League earning deals of between £75m and £100m from sponsorship and then for mid-table club to announce they’ve agreed a sponsorship deal worth £200m – with a company that has close ties to the club’s owner who is bankrolling their success.

Most of the focus on the Financial Fair Play rules have been centred on whether top clubs will be able to adhere to them, yet in actual fact, for the good of football in Europe, this is a much bigger test of UEFA’s ability to govern the game at this level effectively.

The governing body has generally adopted a conciliatory tone when dealing with clubs with these issues, seeking to help clubs meet the levels that they have set. However, with their timescale now running down and two big name clubs potentially falling foul of the rules, will UEFA show their teeth and impose punishments that do have ramifications, or will they adopt an appeasement policy and tap the wrists of the rich elite by fining them a token amount?

There are clear issues with each decision. If UEFA do take a harsher view and impose transfer sanctions on clubs like City and PSG, or even ban them from European Competition, then you can bet that the highly powered legal teams of both clubs will seek to turn over the decision in a lengthy and potentially costly (and damaging) legal battle.

On the other hand, if UEFA do not adopt a severe enough policy, then it makes a mockery of the financial fair play system and could lead to other clubs banding together to insist that tougher sanctions are imposed. Already, there has been talk of clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea lobbying UEFA to impose stricter sanctions if City are guilty of breaching the rules yet do not receive a stringent enough punishment.

This is why UEFA have to get this decision right. If they find Manchester City and/or Paris St-Germain guilty of breaking the terms of the financial fair play system, then the punishment has to appease the clubs who have abided by it, yet it must also be lenient enough not to incur the wrath of two of the wealthiest clubs in Europe.

The problem for UEFA is that those two scenarios, share no common ground.

This is why I feel both clubs will likely be exonerated; this outcome avoids UEFA having to make a decision. Yet if they take this line, then I believe that it will make a mockery of the financial fair play rules, much to the detriment of the game across Europe, particularly at a domestic level.

This decision could well be the historic moment whether we see UEFA chief Michel Platini as the future president of FIFA and the saviour of football, or as the man who effectively sounded the death knell on competitive domestic football, by allowing the super-rich to effectively run the game as they see fit.

UEFA don’t face an easy choice, but in my view, there is a right course of action to take and that is to punish the clubs who have bent the rules to suit their means.

The question is, do UEFA have the bottle to fight that battle? Based on previous decisions from the European Football governing body, I am extremely doubtful they do.

The post Why UEFA Cannot Fail The Fair Play Test appeared first on FootyBlog.net

April 13, 2014

Liverpool Title Favorites After Seeing Off City

In one of the most enthralling games of the Premier League season, Liverpool took the box seat in the title race with a 3-2 win over Manchester City.

On a day when Anfield remembered the 96 people who perished in the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago, Liverpool took a 2-0 half-time lead through Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel.

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April 10, 2014

Atleti Dreams Turning Into A Reality

They've now beaten both Barcelona and Real Madrid this season and on Wednesday Atletico Madrid's dream of an unlikely Champions League and La Liga double moved a step closer to reality.

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March 31, 2014

Can German Legend Break Incredible World Cup Record?

Back in the penultimate game of the 2010 World Cup, a desperate Miroslav Klose sat prone on the bench during Germany's 3-2 third place playoff win over Uruguay, with the striker just one goal shy of equaling Brazilian striker Ronaldo's all-time World Cup goal scoring record of 15.

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March 24, 2014

Socceroos Boss Closing On World Cup Squad

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou has an important job. It is he who has been tasked with defining the future of Australian soccer and ushering in an exciting new era for the national team.

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March 18, 2014

Another Milestone For Messi

Lionel Messi became Barcelona's record scorer on Sunday as he surpassed Paulino Alcantara's record of 369 goals for the club.

The Argentinean, who has been under par by his lofty standards this season, netted a hat-trick in the 7-0 demolition of Osasuna to take his tally to 371 goals for the club. He is still only 26.

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March 14, 2014

Liverpool Aim to Make Manchester United More Miserable

Manchester United vs Liverpool is never just a walk in the park, and Sunday's meeting between the two most successful teams in the English top flight is arguably the most important in the modern era, with a power shift in the North West very much on the cards.

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March 12, 2014

RVP Heading For Old Trafford Exit Door?

Rumors are abound that Manchester United striker Robin van Persie could be leaving the club this summer.

The Dutchman only joined United from Arsenal in the summer of 2012, and after a terrific first season, which saw him finish as the Premier League's top scorer with 26 goals.

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February 28, 2014

The World Cup: A Look Ahead

I have already started my look ahead to this year's World Cup in Brazil. You can check out analysis, players to watch, squad predictions and tournament predictions by clicking on the links below. The other 16 teams are to come...
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New Dawn For Australia

The regeneration of Australia's national team started in earnest this week as new coach Ange Postecoglou made a raft of changes to his squad ahead of the friendly with Ecuador.

The likes of Lucas Neill, Mark Bresciano, Sasa Ognenovski and Brett Holman have all been omitted for the March 5 clash, while a number of younger players have been called up.

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February 25, 2014

Mourinho Candid About Strikers

Jose Mourinho is said to be annoyed that private, and apparently light-hearted, comments about his strikers have been filmed by French TV station Canal Plus.

Should Mourinho win the title with the Blues this season, he may consider it one of his greatest achievements given that he has been without a world class number 9. Strikers Samuel Eto'o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba have scored just 11 times between them in the Premier League, and it is no secret that Mourinho will be in the market for a striker, come the summer.

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July 29, 2011

Tips for Better Sports Betting

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January 19, 2011

Cricket Betting Tips

Betting on cricket matches and cricket players has been going on for decades. Today there are number of online sites which offer betting services. Most of these sites allow people to place bets on games going on in all the prominent cricket playing countries. In any form of gambling and while placing bets it is important to know what the odds are and what you are up against. Cricket being a

August 28, 2009

Everton v Wigan Saturday Football Line up

On the 30th of August at 1500 hours, Everton will host Wigan at their home ground, the Goodison Park. Starting out, Everton are definitely the favorites, especially since they are the stronger side and they will be playing at home. However, Wigan does have a few tricks up its sleeve, and they will be hoping to win this match and thereby boost their players' confidence. The betting odds are

August 13, 2009

Burnley v Manchester United

Ardent followers of the Premier League will recall how newcomers Burnley managed to pull of incredible victories against seasoned teams like Chelsea and Arsenal last year. Their nascent Premier League ambitions were brutally cut short by Tottenham in the semi finals. Burnley returns to the Premier League this year, having signed up promising Scottish international Steven Fletcher, in the midst of

November 11, 2008

Football Star Beckham in His Element on the Field

David, along with Victoria Beckham, who attended the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPY) Awards on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, expressed his satisfaction at being accorded a red carpet welcome.A red carpet will not be rolled out for Beckham when he hits the field Saturday night at Giants Stadium where the match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Red Bulls is slated to be

September 14, 2008

MSU’s Success in Football Crucial for Funding Entire Athletic Department

Michigan State University’s last athletic director who took its football team to the prestigious Rose Bowl Stadium was Doug Weaver who in Jan 1988 fulfilled this dream with George Perles, MSU’s football coach that year.Mark Hollis, MSU’s present athletic director is working towards achieving the same after 20years. "The goal is that going into every year, we have that legitimate anticipation that

August 31, 2008

Ancient small-school football rivalry in the south spreads to all sports

With the first gridiron feud between these two Virginia schools starting in 1883, the fact that the rivalry has not ended even after 125 years goes on to prove that this small-school rivalry is probably the oldest in the South.While the college students from Hampden-Sydney celebrated their 24-10 victory in the 100th game over rivals Yellow Jackets from the near Randolph-Macon College, they

August 05, 2008

Russia enjoys the Hiddink revolution

If you have been watching the Euro 2008 championships, you would have noticed the Russian advance through the various stages culminating in their booking a semi-final berth. For a side that was written off not long ago, the very fact that they reached the semi-final is in itself a great achievement. The credit for this amazing turnaround goes to the Russian side and its famous coach, Guus Hiddink

July 24, 2008

Repurposing condoms as soccer socks

Every now and then I read an article that catches me off guard and this is one such piece.

I turns out that the big soccer fashion trend in Cape Town, South Africa, these days is to wear condoms on your feet to keep your socks up.

The need for such an innovated way of using these prophylactics is the result of a lack of proper soccer gear, such as socks with elastic to hold them in place. Since condoms are distributed for free in order to help curb the spreading of HIV, it all makes sense.
Sivuyile Nqawe of the Lingelethu Football Association in Khayelitsha said it was to "ease matters for those who cannot afford expensive brands of football kit on their mission to sharpen their skills to become future soccer stars".

"It is just a creative method and it works to alleviate the situation. You just break a condom packet, grab and stretch it. Then you put it on your leg," Nqawe said.

"You will find that in most instances players bring a box of condoms to a match and share them among teammates for the same purpose."
Another example of necessity being the mother of invention.

FC Dallas might lose Toja to Europe

Is Juan Toja about to play his final match as a MLS player?

Rumor has it that the longhair midfielder will fly to Romania tonight, after the All-Star match, to finish a deal with Romanian powerhouse Steaua Bucharest.

Then again, it is just a rumor. Accord to FCD coach Schellas Hyndman, "I expect him here to play against LA (on Sunday)."

Although this season has not been as strong as the first half of last year, Toja is still a vital part of Dallas's attack. If he does decide to move on to Europe, FCD will have a difficult time replacing him.

Then there is the ongoing speculation that teammate Kenny Cooper might also be soon to fly across the Atlantic. Those rumors have died down of late, but if both of these ended up being true, it is hard to see a way for Dallas to finish the season in a commanding fashion.

Is the face of FC Dallas about to change in a major way? We'll know within a week.

July 09, 2008

A Fitting finale to an Exciting championship

The recently concluded Euro 2008 championships in Switzerland were a resounding success by all accounts. If it was a spectator’s delight watching the scintillating games, it was an organizational and logistical success from the administrator’s point of view as well. The Swiss Defence Minister Samuel Schmid declared on Sunday that "It's been a mega event. The third-biggest sporting event in the

June 10, 2008

Sanchez Happy With Fulham Revival

Although drubbed by Arsenal in the Barclaycard Premier League opener, Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez has hardly any doubts about the strength of his defense. He is the person who has been credited with the revival of the side. Fulham was not in the best of form when he had taken over the mantle of leading the side towards the end of last season.Chris Coleman, the predecessor to Sanchez, was under

April 03, 2008

World Cup History: Sweden

Sweden has already managed to put together a pretty impressive World Cup record. After all, the country has already achieved one final appearance as well as three top four finishes. It will certainly be interesting to see what the country still has to offer.

Sweden first participated in the Cup events in 1934. At this time, they beat Argentina with a score of 3 to 2 during the opening round. They then lost to Germany with a score of 2 to 1 during the quarter finals and the Germans went on to lose to Czechoslovakia with a score of 3 to 1.

After this first tournament, the event moved to France in 1938 and Sweden received a bye for the first round when Austria withdrew from the competition. They went on to beat Cuba with a score of 8 to 0 in the quarter finals and met up against Hungary for the semi-final. Here, they lost with a score of 5 to 1. Hungary went on to lose to Italy in the final, with a score of 4 to 2.

In 1950, Sweden managed to beat Italy with a score of 3 to 2 and then had a 2 to 2 draw against Paraguay. They moved onto the final four, but than lost against Brazil with a score of 7 to 1 and then lost to Uruguay with a score of 3 to 2. Although they did win over Spain with a score of 3 to 1, it simply wasn’t enough for team Sweden to move on.

In 1954, Sweden did not qualify for the tournament, but they hosted the event in 1958. This seemed to bring good luck to the team, as they had the best World Cup performance in the country’s history of the game. First, they beat Mexico with a score of 3 to 0 and then won against Hungary with a score of 2 to 1. The team then had a 0 to 0 draw against Wales and moved on to the quarterfinals. They went on to win against the USSR with a score of 2 to 0 and to beat Yugoslavia with a score of 1 to 0. They ended up making it to the finals and facing Brazil. They couldn’t pull of the win, however, and lost with a 5 to 2 score.

Sweden failed to follow up this good year in a positive way, however, as they failed to qualify for both the 1962 tournament and the 1966 tournament. On the other hand, they did qualify in 1970 and they did win their final group with a score of 1 to 0 against Uruguay. That’s as far as they managed to go, however, and Italy ultimately won the title with a 4 to 1 win against Italy.

In 1974, the team did a little better with a 0 to 0 draw against Bulgaria and a Group 3 victory. They won with a score of 3 to 0 against Uruguay. They went on to lose against Poland with a score of 1 to 0 and a 4 to 2 loss against West Germany. West Germany ultimately went on to win the title.

Things looked promising in 1978, with a 1 to 1 draw against Brazil. They went on to lose against Austria and Spain and finished at the bottom of Group 3. The team failed to participate in the 1982 and 1986 events, but returned in 1990. At this time, they faced Brazil and lost 2 to 1, and then went on to lose by the same score against Costa Rica and Scotland.

In 1994, the Swedish team managed to make it to round two after a 2 to 2 draw against Cameroon, a 3 to 1 win against Russia, and a 1 to 1 draw against Brazil. They went on to win with a 3 to 1 score against Saudi Arabia and went on to the last eight. Here, they faced Romania and drew 2 to 2. After the shoot out, Sweden came out on top with a 5 to 4 score. They then faced Brazil and couldn’t manage to pull out a win.

The team failed to qualify in 1998, but did participate in the 2002 event. They won a 1 to 1 draw against England, won 2 to 1 against Nigeria, and had a 1 to 1 draw against Argentina. They went on to face Senegal, but still couldn’t pull out a win.

2006 doesn’t look much better for Sweden. Although they will likely make the last 16, history shows that they probably won’t make it all the way. If they do manage to progress any further, they are not likely to take it all the way to win the title, despite the fact that the team does have a great deal of talent to offer.

World Cup History: Portugal

There are several more contenders for the 2006 world championship title in Germany than many may have thought. In fact, many are claiming there is a “new world order” that deserves to be recognized. Some of the teams being considered more closely include Greece, Turkey, and South Korea. Portugal is also being looked at as a possibility when it comes to winning the cup, though most people think they pose little threat to actually win the entire cup. After all, history has demonstrated that the team has not been able to capitalize on its assets and bring home a win.

In 2004, Greece won the European honors and Turkey and South Korea have also managed to make it to the semi-finals in 2002. Another dark horse that is starting to gain more recognition over the past few years is Portugal, despite the fact that the 2006 competition represents only the fourth time Portugal has participated in the World Cup finals. The first Portugal win came in 1966 in England and it is still considered to be the best main event performance for Portugal.

Before their excellent 1966 performance, they had been in a difficult group that pitted them against two of the most prestigious teams from the decade before. In 1958 and 1962, Brazil had captured world titles. In addition, Hungary was having an amazing period of football at the time. Despite the fact that they hadn’t actually won a championship during this period of time, the Hungary team from that era is still regarded as one of the most revolutionary in the history of the game.

Although Hungary wasn’t quite the juggernaut it used to be by the time 1966 came around, the fact that Portugal was able to win with a score of 3 to 1 at this time was quite an achievement. It was also here that Eusebio made his first goal while helping in a 3 to 0 win over Bulgaria. Eusebio added two more goals to his record while helping Portugal achieve a 3 to 1 victory over Brazil. Although some of the defensive moves used by Portugal at this game were controversial, the game still highlighted the fact that the Portuguese were a team to contend with.

The fact that North Korea beat Italy during the first round also helped Portugal, because this meant the Asian side would be their opposition during the last eight. It looked as if all was lost, however, when North Korea brought the score to 3 to 0 during the game’s first 25 minutes. With the help of Eusebio’s four goals, the team managed to pull out a 5 to 3 win.

The team then faced England and faced a real challenge. Bobby Charlton got two goals early on and Portugal wasn’t able to regain control. It took another 20 years before Portugal made it to the finals again. When Portugal made it to the tournament in Mexico, they were considered a difficult team to contend with, but they still were not thought of as a team that could win. At this time, Portugal found itself facing England in the opening group phase. Despite putting up a good fight, Portugal did not progress.

Once again, the Portuguese found themselves out of the World Cup action for a long period of time. In fact, they didn’t return until 2002. They were referred to as the “Golden Generation” during this time, but still did not fair too well. Despite the excitement surrounding Rui Costa, Luis Figo, and Fernando Couto, the young team wasn’t able to pull off a victory. First, they lost against the United States with a score of 3 to 2. They did win against Poland, however, with an impressive score of 4 to 0. With that victory, team Portugal’s hopes were improved. This was short-lived, however, as they were beaten by South Korea. The hopes team Portugal held in its young talent were quickly dashed.

After that disappointing season, Luis Felipe Scolari was brought in to try to revive the team. Scolari, who was the manager of the winning Brazilian World Cup team has brought new hope to the struggling team. After being beaten in Euro 2004, Scolari has something to prove to the world and he has just the team to do it with. In addition, it is a straightforward procedure to get out of Group D, which contains Iran, Mexico, and the former colony of Angola.

If history is any indication, Portugal is not likely to bring home the win in 2006. At the same time, they have a number of factors working in their favor. They have young talent that is thirsty for a win as well as a high-quality coach with something to prove to the world. The results of this match up remain to be seen.

September 19, 2007

Starting a Football Betting Career

As a novice to football bets, the first thing you must learn is the types of bets used. These are the basics to a successful betting career. There are various types of football bets. A few of them are Straight Wagers, Money Line Wagers, Half-time Wagers, Parlays, Future and Proposition wagers, Teasers, Reverse Wagers, etc. Gaining a basic idea about some of these would help you place bets

July 01, 2007

Rafa’s excited over new signings

Liverpool is all set to get bolstered with new signings. Manager Rafael Benitez is gung-ho about the possible move of major players like Javier Mascherano, Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso into his Liverpool squad. To add to the excitement is the speculated buy-out of ‘The Kid’ Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid. Although played down by the Madrid officials, this move is definitely in the offing.

May 03, 2007

Free Bets on the internet

I was looking around on the internet as I often do for free bets. Most of the time online bookies offer you free bets as an incentive to sign up. Many of these free bets could be a straight $20 or £10 and sometimes as much as £60 / $120. You will also see regular offers such as place a bet on any market and your get a free goal score bet. The site that I was looking at for these free bets was

April 02, 2007

2001 no longer seems 6 years away...


That is how desperate the situation at High... no wait (forgive me) Ashburton Grove has become. Why do I mention a year normally associated with terrorism? That year encapsulated Arsenal's most embarrassing defeat in modern history - a 6-1 tub- thumping at the hand's of Manchester United. On Saturday lunchtime, Arsenal were treated to a another dose of an only slightly less venomous medicine, this time on Merseyside; in front of Liverpool's new American co owners - one wonders whether Liverpool's breathtaking display has left the Americans shell shocked that there just might be something more exciting than March Madness on this side of the pond?

Whatever the case, on this occasion, the terrorism is not being perpetrated by some Islamic fundamentalist, no - the terrorism is etched between the paper thin lines of Arsenal's permeable defense. These players have hi-jacked the Gunners' back line and transformed what are normal defensive rituals into Sunday morning comedy routines which only serve in aiding the opposition, not Arsenal.

All this was on a day when Arsenal were presented with a precious opportunity to cement their status as the third best team in the Premiership, hence securing another venture onto European shores next season. To say Arsenal "spurned" this chance is the understatement of the season. Suicide would perhaps be a more appropriate description. From the start, Arsenal were 2 yards off the pace, Liverpool harried Arsenal like blood thirsty wolves chasing a pack of hyenas, and the skyscraper they call "RoboCrouch" used his height to great effect. More irony for Arsene to ponder, two players the Frenchman previously rejected once upon a time played a decisive roll in this thrashing, number one being Jermaine Pennant whose spell at Arsenal was tainted with off the field controversy, and number two being Crouch - whom Wenger once described as “a basketball player who can play with his head”. I am sure messas Michael Jordon and Kobe Bryant would be equally flattered if they were on the receiving end of such a back handed compliment.

True defeats in the north of England are no stranger to the north London outfit. This season alone, Arsenal have suffered at the hands of Bolton, Man City, Everton, and of course Liverpool. And that does not account for the last gasp defeat to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup; which extinguished Arsenal's only semi realistic shot at silverware this season. If Celtic and Rangers joined the English League tomorrow, rest assured there would be no welcome party from Arsene's boys...

So the heaviest Premiership reverse since February 2001. Accurate to point out that on that occasion the scoreline read 6-1 in Man Utd's favor, but way back yonder Arsenal were still second in the league, and were still fighting in the FA Cup and Champions League. This season's traditional northern drubbing comes at a time when Arsenal are officially annexed from every competition, so although 6 years ago Arsenal conceded two more goals, the picture still looked brighter than it does today considering Arsenal's league position and precarious premature exits in the FA Cup and Champions league (two arenas where Arsenal have flourished in recent seasons).

At the beginning of the 2005-2006 season Wenger said he was not one to look back because he harbors too many regrets on previous failures and misfortunes. One can only imagine that sentiment will have been reversed on Saturday as the Gunners provided their fans with an early, not so welcome, April fools joke of a performance!

March 04, 2007

My Rant on Fox...


And no! Surprisingly my tirade is not directed at the political vultures at the top of the blood sucking money making tree that is FOX. My venom is not directed at the political architecture of the network which continues to serenely support the Bush administration by constantly parroting the orthodoxes handed out by the Republican party which have led us into the quagmire of Baghdad and beyond.

However, my anger is directed towards one of FOX's sister channels, "Fox Soccer Channel", and more specifically, the Fox Soccer Report, which airs on channel 613 on satellite television at 10pm eastern, 9pm central. This show has ruined the prime principle of soccer broadcasting.

This dilemma compounds, what is to me anyway, a fundamental problem entrenched in the roots of this country. American media is incensed with a fixation of advertising by the mass; cramming as much in to as little time possible in order to make the maximum profit. I'm sorry, this simply does not work when it comes to presenting British soccer.

It may work with the endless carpet commercials sandwiched between the intervals of your Sunday morning conservative radio talk shows, it may work during the non stop commercials which display legal attorneys encouraging people to sue for an arm and a leg. And it certainly may work during the infamous ESPN show called sportscenter, which successfully transforms baseball and basketball highlights into tiny two minute segments representing only a portion of the actual game. But you cannot marginalize soccer highlights into such short segments, that action represents an unforgivable sin on "the beautiful game".

And the pirates that run this show Fox Soccer Report are complicit in this act. They have this wild idea of compiling all the soccer highlight reels from 4 or 5 different countries into a brief one hour segment. This leaves the viewer with a somewhat less than full filed taste in his or her mouth. Showing one clip from a game that lasted 90mins and declaring "the game ended in a tie game" is not the way to report a game of soccer.

Even on the few occasions when analysis is permitted (and believe you me, this is rare) the main correspondent, Bobby McMahon, is only provided with 15 seconds or so to either summarize, or preview a game. He often ends up saying "This is gonna be a close game but I see it going this way..." This is simply not nearly enough time to explain the tactics, players, or sheer mental psychology that surrounds international soccer. You have to allow your viewers to understand the emotional pysche of the respective players before a match, and what sort of tactical masterpieces the managers will employ during the match to win the game. Furthermore, I do not think Americans have grasped the concept of "derby matches", these are games which take place between local rivals where the seed of hatred between the two clubs age back 10s, if not 100s of years. Rivalries which make the Packers - Bears rivalry look like a tussle between two spoiled toddlers on a playground!!!!!!!!!!!!

So to conclude, Soccer is not Baseball. It does not deserved to be presented as if it were a commercial itself, no, this game deserves more respect. I hope Fox Soccer Channel changes its ways and adopts a more rounded approach when it comes to Soccer coverage. I can only hope that Fox allows Fox Soccer Channel the same adequate analysis time they allow Bill O'Reilly on "The Factor". Hopefully with less advertisements, and a more comprehensive analysis of the games at hand, the Fox Soccer Report may one day enter "The No Spin Zone".


(Highly unlikely in our lifetimes, however...)

March 03, 2007

Betfair - Betting Exchange

Betfair - Betting ExchangeBetfair is undeniably one of the largest online gambling operations in the world today. Betfair has offered services for some time that has not disappointed their clients, thus making the site the largest online. Betfair launched its site in 1999, and since this time, the site has become the greatest market share Online. Its online betting shares out rates many of

January 26, 2007

Arsenal Football Tickets

Well, the new football season has started and what better time is there to purchase yourself some Arsenal football tickets.Arsenal have some big games coming up and tickets are available for you to purchase.Don't miss out on all the action, the atmosphere just isn't quite then same when watching on the television! Check out Online Soccer for more information.

September 04, 2006

Defoe frustrated with Tottenham situation

Jermaine Defoe has admitted his on-going frustrations at not being a regular feature in the Tottenham starting line-up.After scoring for England and putting in a very impressive performances, Defoe has given his best shot and there's not much else he could do to command a decent role at club level.However, Defoe is going to get his head down and let the football do the talking rather than speak

Gallas makes Chelsea feelings known

Former Chelsea defender William Gallas has criticised former boss Jose Mourinho.Now having joined Arsenal in a deal which saw Ashley Cole head the over way, Gallas feels relived.The France international had been phased out at Chelsea and appeared to be on very bad terms with Mourinho. Gallas feels that the gaffer was fickle with his players and the same thing that's happened to him happened to

Lampard praises Arsenal signing

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard is happy with the signing of Ashley Cole.Lampard has played with Cole for England so he knows what he's all about and considers him to probably be the best left-back in the world.There's a lot of pressure playing for a big club like Chelsea but Cole has experienced it with Arsenal and England so Lampard doesn't think the defender will have any problems."Ashley is

Gerrard gets international praise

England boss Steve McClaren has praised midfielder Steven Gerrard.The Liverpool captain has been in good form for England and it's finally looking like he's transferring some of his inspiration from club level to international level.Now McClaren feels that the best is still to come from Gerrard as he'll be on the right hand side for England."He's been influential for Liverpool over the years and

Henry excited by new Arsenal big signings

Arsenal captain Thierry Henry feels that the club have made signings which will help them progress.Despite losing Jose Antonio Reyes and Ashley Cole, Arsenal have got William Gallas and Baptista, two very good players indeed.Henry considers Gallas to be the best centre back in the whole world and also believes Baptista can become a big player for Arsenal this season."I have known William for a

August 31, 2006

Cole completes awaited move

Andy Cole has completed a transfer from Man City to Portsmouth.Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp has been trying to strengthen his squad throughout the summer and the arrival of Andy Cole will be a great boost to their Premiership campaign.After passing a medical today Cole completed his move and hopefully we'll have some more news on this later, including quotes from the player and manager.

West Ham shock Arsenal with massive star signings

West Ham have shocked Arsenal and many people involved with football around the world by signing both Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano on year long loan deals.Anyone would have thought that Arsenal would be the club to go to over West Ham but in this case it looks like it's a matter of where first team football would be easiest to come by.Now Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will have to look

Aston Villa fail to make star signing

A move for Javier Saviola to Aston Villa will not go through as the players agent Alfredo Cabrera Brizuela insists his client wants another level.The move never looked likely from the start but it shows that new boss Martin O'Neill is very optimistic and feels he can bring some of the biggest talent to the club."The propositions are important, but Javier wants another level." said Alfredo Cabrera

Blackburn in striker talks

Blackburn Rovers are currently in talks with Roma over a loan deal for Shabani Nonda.Blackburn are looking to strenghthen their attack for the Premiership season and Roma are willing to let the 29-year old go.With two years left to run on his current deal, there is an option for Blackburn to make a purchase for the player when the loan has expired in the summer.

Sven getting £13,000-per-week from the FA

News that Sven Goran-Eriksson is still being paid by the Football association has angered Wigan chairman Dave Whelan.Even before the World Cup when Sven committed gross misconduct, Whelan stood up and said the FA that Sven should be sacked. That was the perfect opportunity to get rid of the Swede in his view.However, Sven was not sacked by the FA and is now still getting paid a reported £