Archive for November, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Giggs receives glowing praise from Portughese legend Figo!

“He has the most talent than any other football player. He is delicate and dynamic. He is the player chosen by God. If Ryan was with us, strongest in Europe would definitely not been France.” These are the words by Portugal legend Figo, who has showered Manchester United winger Giggs with glowing praise,

At international level, Giggs did not have any opportunity to shine except for the last Olympic tournament, but unfortunately Stuart Pearce, the Great Britain Caretaker, did not bother to play him in every game. It is remarkable that such a talent has never graced an international tournament like the European Championship or the World Cup. However, this could be seen as some consolation with Giggs getting outstanding reviews from former great players.

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PostHeaderIcon Premier League breaks 250 million mark!

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The Premier League welcomed its 250 millionth fan through the turnstiles yesterday, twenty years after its inception in August 1992.

Fans have been treated to two decades of high quality football, and last night’s fixtures at Villa Park and the Stadium of Light saw the Premier League pass its latest milestone – although to say the least that yesterday’s game at Villa Park did not go down as the most exciting game in the history of the EPL.

More than 250 million people have watched Premier League football live over the past twenty years. To say the least it is a phenomenal number and crowds have been growing year after year.

Despite the rise of televised football, funnily enough people still enjoy going to games. And new statistics collected by Premier League sponsor Barclays and published on Liverpoolfc.com reveal which clubs have been watched the most since August 1992.

While the recession has tempered ambition in recent seasons, it is a fact that it has only slowed down rather than reversed.

PostHeaderIcon Draw for U21 European Championship to take place

Way back in March 2011, the first ball was kicked in qualification as 53 nations started out on their hopeful journeys to become the 2013 UEFA European Under-21s Champions.

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Now, after 220 matches and seven play-off ties, 45 countries have fallen by the wayside, leaving just eight to compete at next summer’s Finals tournament which will take place in Israel.

On Wednesday afternoon, in Tel Aviv, the draw for the Finals will be made and the nations will learn who they’ll face when the tournament starts on 5 June.

Holders Spain will be one of two top seeds, alongside the hosts. England and Holland will be the two second seeds and, like Spain and Israel, will be drawn into separate groups.

The remaining four countries – Italy, Russia, Germany and Norway – are unseeded.
The Finals will be played at venues in four cities in Israel; Tel Aviv, Netanya, Jerusalem and Petah Tikva.

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PostHeaderIcon Rio in race against time

Rio de Janeiro is struggling to be ready to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics with building work described by experts as being “last minute”.

Sky reporter Orla Chennaoui is in Brazil for the official debrief of the 2012 Games where London Olympic organisers, led by Sebastian Coe, are among around 500 people present,as well as IOC members and Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman.

The four-day debriefing will involve London 2012 staff sharing their knowledge and experiences with representatives from Sochi 2014, Rio 2016, Pyeongchang 2018 and the three candidate cities for 2020, Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo.

It is taking place until Wednesday in the Barra district of Rio where most of the venues for 2016 are located. The group will also take time to digest and discuss the results of the London Games.

Although most cities struggle to keep within the tight deadlines for building projects in the build-up to hosting sporting events such as the Games or World Cups, Sky Sports have seen close-up the problems the Brazilian city is facing.

The stuttering construction of the Olympic Park is a growing concern, and with 18 months to go to football’s World Cup, the building of the main airport and the Maracana Stadium is far from complete.

“Building work at the Olympic Park began in the summer, but there are concerns about some venues, with Rugby 7′s still without a home, and work yet to begin on the first Olympic golf course,” Chennaoui reports. As usual, they are expecting a ‘last minute rush’ as was the case with Poland and Ukraine in the last European Cup.

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PostHeaderIcon Ex Barca Coach wants top Brazil job

The Spaniard has been linked with Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, Liverpool  after he reported that he would be interested in having a crack in England after his time with Barcelona. But the report claims he would only end his year-long break from football to head up Brazil’s bid to be crowned World Champions on home soil in two years time.

Brazil, rhe five-time World Cup winners sacked Mano Menezes earlier this week, and Guardiola has emerged as the favourite to take over. Brazil host the World Cup in 2014, and the pressure is on to make sure the host country shine in front of their own fans.

Benitez replaced Roberto Di Matteo on Wednesday, but was only hired on a seven-month contract, suggesting Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is still waiting for Guardiola to finish his sabbatical. Guardiola would have never accepted the Chelsea job midway through the season as he would like to go into the job with a certain amount of time in order to adapt himself.

Lance! editor, as reported by the Daily Mirror, said a source close to Pep revealed Brazil was “the only team in the world he would start to train with tomorrow,” and that Guardiola would become “world champion with Brazil.

Only Jose Mourinho can rival Guardiola in terms of managerial reputation at a relatively young age, and the two bosses will likely have the pick of the jobs when they decide to take on fresh challenges.

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PostHeaderIcon Gerrard’s 100th cap overshadowed by Ibra-cadabra

Steven Gerrard is the General for England these days and he was excellent again on his 100th cap.

He played with the so-called golden generation but now with Terry, Ferdinand and Scholes gone and Lampard less involved, he is the only one of the old guard who is part of the new generation.

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Something really annoyed Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It may have been the unkind comparison to Andy Carroll made by England fans or he may have been offended by the sudden rush of so many unfamiliar substitutes.

Whatever it was, he responded by completing his hat-trick and then scored a fourth – quite possibly one of the greatest goals scored by anyone, anywhere in the world.
If you are looking for the best way to mark the opening of a national stadium and overshadow Steven Gerrard’s 100th cap and six England debutants, that’s not a bad way to do it.

Silence fell as those inside the Friends Arena held their breath. and watched the flight of the ball. Then the noise exploded as it landed in the net.

England supporters stood to applaud the audacity of Sweden’s captain. Sometimes it is simply a thrill to witness such flashes of sporting beauty.

Let us bury forever the notion that he does not produce against English teams or vanishes on the big occasion. Ibrahimovic ripped off his shirt, tossed it towards the crowd and shrugged as he was shown a yellow card. In the game of where common sense prevails, maybe the referee could have easily given him the benefit of the doubt, and let on with his celebration but instead threatened to steal some of the limelight by flashing him the yellow card.

If the race is on to be known as the world’s third-best player, here was his candidacy. No-one in a white shirt could match his strength of personality or quality.

No-one had scored a hat-trick against England since Marco van Basten in 1988, the year, in the opinion of many where football’s greatest ever goal was scored.

Nobody had ever scored four.

PostHeaderIcon England’s new hero Zaha overlooks Ivory Coast

When Wilfried Zaha reported for England duty for the first time on Monday he was offered a valuable piece of advice. ‘Train like you belong,’ Steven Gerrard whispered in his ear at the team hotel in Manchester, and the young, slightly boisterous Crystal Palace winger appreciated all the support from the England captain.

But deep down Zaha already felt he did belong. Deep down he believed he had the ability to be in the company of Roy Hodgson’s senior international players. ‘Unless I’m looking at Ronaldo or Messi, I’d never look at someone else and think he’s better than me,’ he said in his first major newspaper interview. One of the main attributes that betray English players is the self belief that is needed to succeed at this level. Well, Zaha seems to have that in abundance.

This is the kid who spent 10 years perfecting Ronaldinho’s tricks with a tennis ball on the back streets of London and he is now desperate to use them against the best possible opposition. He will get this chance against Sweden on Wednesday night.

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He is the best player to come out of Selhurst Park since Ian Wright, a wonderful blend of trickery, pace and outrageous skill. The Palace winger can play across all three positions up front but has been switching wings of late as Ian Holloway’s team strive to reach the Premier League.

Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson claimed he was simply ‘unplayable’ after Zaha’s performance at London Road won another three promotion points for Palace last Saturday. We believe it is only a matter about time till he fulfills his destiny. Wednesday will be his first big step.

PostHeaderIcon Incredible Stevie G to make his 100th Appearance vs Sweden

Steven Gerrard is set to become the sixth England player to win 100 caps after being named in Roy Hodgson’s squad to play Sweden in a friendly in Stockholm next Wednesday.

Gerrard, 32, was included after Hodgson originally suggested that he would be among some senior players rested for the game. It is thought the he will only skipper the team for the first half as Hodgson is likely to rotate his squad. Hodgson was not sure about playing or resting Steven Gerrard but it seems that the England manager has changed his mind and he will be leading the team.

Gerrard, who is captain for the national side, will join England greats Peter Shilton, Bobby Moore, Billy Wright, Bobby Charlton and David Beckham in the list of players to have reached a century of games for their country.

Meanwhile, Chelsea full-back Ashley Cole is expected to miss out on claiming his 100th cap due to injury and will have to wait for the next set of international matches for him reach the milestone.

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PostHeaderIcon Ballon D’Or

Last week there was the announcement of the Ballon D’Or shortlist. All the familiar faces were present in the list; Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Radamel Falcao amongst others.

Messi is gunning for a record fourth straight ‘player of the year crown’ while Ronaldo is desperate to dislodge him and claim his second Golden Ball. This is the price that Ronaldo deems that he deserves to win ‘by far’.

It is fascinating that pair’s battle to be crowned the best has defined the last five years of world football and looks set to continue for years to come, but who actually are the players waiting in the wings to take over as the ‘best players in the world’ – who are the next Ronaldo’s and Messi’s of this world? Together with the online betting experts and collobaoration with sportbook we are listing two future potential Golden Ball Winners including a special talent at Manchester United.

Alen Halilovic, Dinamo Zagreb

At just 16-years-old, it is hard to say whether Halilovic will fulfill his promise as the next Lionel Messi, but there is no doubting the Croatian’s potential at such a tender age.

The talented youngster played his first game for Zagreb in September to become the club’s youngest ever debutant, while he scored in his next match to make him the Croatian league’s youngest ever scorer.

In October, he became the youngest player to feature in the Champions League. Not bad for someone who can’t even have a drink to toast his own talent.

If reports are to be believed, the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and the rest have already had an approach for the precocious youngster turned down, while Manchester City and Manchester United have been reportedly monitoring developments. Certainly one to watch.

Nick Powell

This is a role that many have tried to fill but few have had any sort of success – to the extent that the great man himself rose from retirement last season to pull on the famous Manchester United shirt once more.

A summer purchase from Crewe who was attracting interest from all corners of the Premier League, Powell, 18, announced himself to the Old Trafford faithful with a particularly Scholes-esque strike from distance against Wigan in September.

The prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to declare: “He is a good physical specimen and has terrific vision. We hope Powell fills Paul Scholes’ boots. For an 18-year-old boy it has been a terrific day.”

But judging by this wonder strike during his time at Crewe and the glimpses we have seen so far together with his physical prowess, there’s no doubting the boy’s a bit special and certainly one to watch.

PostHeaderIcon England are far from certain to qualify….

England lose risking their reputation and qualification for the World Cup in Brazil if they do not show more mettle , however manager Roy Hodgson seems calm and  is not worrying over the prospect of his side finding themselves involved in a World Cup qualification dogfight.

The draw in Warsaw means the Three Lions will lose their narrow advantage in Group H should Montenegro, as expected, win their game in hand against San Marino in November. The game in Montenegro is being touted as a ‘cup final’. For all the markets and types of wagers, refer to  Sportsbook.ag

Having already dropped two points against Ukraine at Wembley last month, few now believe England will be able to simply cruise towards the finals in Brazil in 2014.

Indeed, should they lose to Montenegro on March 26th in their only meaningful qualifier before next autumn; there will be a huge question mark over England’s presence in South America.

However, Hodgson is confident enough that his players have the character to meet such challenges – and even deliver.

“If it’s a dogfight, it’s a dogfight. There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “The good thing is we know we can stay and take part in a dogfight.
“We took part in a few dogfights during the Euros and we certainly dug in against Poland and showed the right sort of character and determination.
“There will be some groups where one team shoots away and others where it’s going to be quite close and I still think we will improve.”
Fight
“If it’s a dogfight, it’s a dogfight. There’s nothing wrong with that. The good thing is we know we can stay and take part in a dogfight.”
Roy Hodgson Quotes of the week
Hodgson added: “But I think you’ll find that come November we’ll be very much in the mix.
“And if sometimes you’ve got to fight your way for something, rather than just sail through, that can help.
“Russia and Holland sailed through to the Euros but neither of them got out of their groups.
“Italy went there with loads of problems, we were led to believe, not least politically – and ended up in the final.”
Interestingly enough, Hodgson has used 34 players in the space of five months, 25 of them more than once, but the manager feels he is close to finding his regular side.

“It is a lot,” said Hodgson. “But it wouldn’t be a fair criticism to say we’ve chopped and changed around.
“It’s more a case of looking at several players to see if they can start to worry some of those who are up in 80 or 90 caps. And I think we are quite close to bedding a team down.”

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