Monthly Archives: December 2015
- December 09, 2015
By Karl Matchett.
While Nuno parting company with Valencia was one of the more expected outcomes of the current season, the appointment of Gary Neville as head coach to replace him was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the campaign.
The former Manchester United right-back, respected though he is in the sport after excelling as an international player and then a diligent, insightful and well-spoken analyst, has no top-flight coaching experience at a club-although is assistant with the England national team-and is diving head-first into a new league, a new language and a new culture. Undoubtedly he will be helped to thrive by being surrounded by familiar faces and those who are affording him the opportunity to take the job in the first place, but as much as Neville remarked his "credibility would have been on the line" if he didn't take the role, so too will it now that he is the manager.
- December 08, 2015
Juventus and Chelsea have been two of the biggest stories of the 2015 2016 football season so far, for how they followed remarkable campaigns in 2014 2015 with disappointing starts this fall. However, while Chelsea have only continued to fall further into the hole in England, Juventus have turned things around in Italy. With a 2-0 away victory against Lazio last Friday, the Zebras notched their fifth Serie A victory in a row. They are now the only Serie A team to have won each of their last five games and are rapidly climbing their way back into Serie A title contention.
The Slow Start
To be fair, you could have anticipated Juve's slow start to the 2015 2016 season-and some soccer pundits even did. In 2014 2015, Juventus won their fourth Serie A title in a row and went all the way to the finals of the UEFA Champions League. However, the summer transfer window saw the football club losing three of their most valuable players:
- December 08, 2015
On transfer deadline day in 2013, Arsenal made a huge move, signing German midfielder Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for a club-record fee of £42.4 million. The next year, manager Arsene Wenger authorized another big payment-£35 million to Barcelona for Alexis Sanchez. Both of those high-profile signings have proven to be good for Arsenal, with both players putting up solid numbers in terms of both goals and assists.
"Not in a Hurry"
Recently, rumors have circulated that Arsenal is working on newer and more valuable contracts for both players, to fend off interest from other clubs and keep them at Emirates Stadium for the long term. British newspapers have focused heavily on the two players and their possible "bumper contracts" in recent weeks, with some writers speculating that a bump for Sanchez could make him the highest earner at Arsenal-a title currently held by Ozil.
Arsene Wenger, though, says that the papers
- December 07, 2015
When Barcelona played their first-leg match of the Copa del Rey round of 32, all the way back at the end of October, something odd happened: they settled for a dull, scoreless draw against third-tier football club, CF Villanovense. Rather than risk the injury of top talent like Luis Suarez and Neymar-particularly important given the then-ongoing absence of Lionel Messi-manager Luis Enrique chose to field a soccer squad of players who normally don't start. The result was a surprisingly poor showing for the reigning Copa del Rey champions and the recent treble victors.
Last week, when Barca returned to the pitch for their second leg against Villanovense-and when the rest of the round of 32 finally got underway-things looked quite a bit different for the soccer club. Enrique still left Neymar and Suarez on the bench (and Messi wasn't even on hand as a substitute), but it didn't matter. Playing at home on December 2nd, Barcelona demolished their third-tier challengers, winning
- December 07, 2015
One of these years, FIFA's final shortlist of the last three Ballon d'Or contenders will not include both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. That year isn't this year, though, as both players land among the trio of Ballon d'Or finalists 2015, for the fifth year in a row and the eighth year in total. (Ronaldo was not shortlisted in 2010, but Messi was.) Also named among the top three was Messi's teammate Neymar, his first time as a finalist for the prestigious soccer award. FIFA will announce the winner of the prize on January 11th.
From 23 to ThreeÂ
The three-man list of finalists was culled from a 23-man shortlist that FIFA released to the public back in October. FC Barcelona was the most represented football club on the 23-man list,
- December 06, 2015
In 2013, British filmmakers Ben and Gabe Turner released the documentary, The Class of '92. The film focused on six players that Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson signed in the early 1990s-players that would continue to define the majority of his tenure with the football club. Manchester United's Class of 92 six players-David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, and brothers Gary and Phil Neville would pave the way for United's Golden Age of Premier League domination.
An Impressive Legacy
Even now, after all six of those players (as well as Ferguson) have officially retired from professional football, the class of 92 continues to cast a long shadow of influence and legend. At Manchester United, of course, the influence is obvious. Ryan Giggs played with the Red Devils from
- December 06, 2015
Not too long ago, it seemed Liverpool would be lucky to land in the upper half of the 2015 2016 Premier League table. Though they were strong title contenders in the 2013 2014 season, the Reds have been hit hard by the transfer market in the summers since. First, Luis Suarez departed, quickly becoming a star at FC Barcelona. Then, this past summer, Liverpool lost both their all-time greatest player (Steven Gerrard) and their most promising young gun (Raheem Sterling)-a conundrum that left manager Brendan Rodgers seemingly unable to field a decent soccer squad.
Now, it appears things have turned around at Anfield. Rodgers was sacked in early October after a draw with Everton left the Reds in danger of falling out of the Premier League top 10. Team bosses lured former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp out of retirement to replace him, and under Klopp's leadership, the football club
- December 05, 2015
It hasn't been easy being an AC Milan supporter for the last few seasons. The Rossoneri's management and on-field performances have led to further shortcomings, with fans pleading for drastic changes at the club.
Sinisa Mihajlovic's arrival at the Milanello in June relieved fans and brought promise of a better tomorrow. Club legend Filippo Inzaghi was cast away in the process, whose inexperience managing at the top flight landed AC Milan a tenth-place finish and yet another season without European football.
Mihajlovic, instead, was valued for his strict work ethic and would bring order and structure to the club. It's his way or the highway a tough approach that was needed to rid the disappointing passiveness that has been displayed for the past couple of years.
Different tactical setups were tested from a 4-3-1-2 to a 4-3-3 and quite a few players were purchased in the summer including Carlos Bacca, Alessio Romagnoli and Andrea Bertolacci.
But apart from a couple
- December 05, 2015
Last season, Diego Costa could do no wrong at Chelsea FC. Though he only transferred to Stamford Bridge during the summer of 2014, he quickly became a hero at the football club, scoring 20 goals in 26 league fixtures to become the team's top scorer. Along with Eden Hazard, Costa was the driving force behind Chelsea's title victory in the English Premier League, and fans were hoping to see more of the same from the Brazilian-born striker in 2015 2016.
Things haven't really worked out that way.
This season, Costa is still Chelsea's top scorer in the Premier League. The problem is, he's only scored three goals and has often looked sloppy and tired out on the pitch. Such an example of sloppiness led to a feud between Jose Mourinho and Diego Costa during the Blues' November 24th Champions League match against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
- December 04, 2015
By Greg Lea.
It looked like being the perfect response. Four days after being humiliated by Barcelona in the first Clasico of the season, Real Madrid stormed into a 4-0 lead after 70 minutes of their Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk, taking their anger and frustration out on their Ukrainian opponents as they attempted to seal their progression into the knockout stage. While such an emphatic victory would not absolve Rafael Benitez and his players for the 4-0 loss to arch-enemies Barca, it would at least go some way towards making amends.
The final 20 minutes, though, almost saw a catastrophic collapse: two strikes from Alex Teixeira and one from Dentinho reduced the deficit to just a single goal, with Madrid ultimately doing just enough to hang on for a 4-3 victory. Despite departing Arena Lviv with all three points and qualification sewn up, all of the doubts and questions that Madrid had faced a few days previously arose once
A trip to Eibar last