Monthly Archives: January 2016
By Edward Stratmann.
Giacomo Bonaventura continued to show why he's such a vital component of this frustratingly inconsistent AC Milan outfit in their 2-2 draw at Empoli.
From his post out on the left, the technically gifted midfielder, who has unquestionably been the Rossoneri's outstanding player this season, oozed class and polish throughout, in what was another impressive performance by the former Atalanta star.
His quality with the ball at his feet provided the platform for so much of his side's most incisive work, with his exceptional passing and dribbling yet again combining beautifully to animate his team's work in the final third. Bonaventura demonstrated his creativity in spades on the night, as on top of finding teammates by using his superb range of passing, he also manufactured openings for them with his intelligent movement.
The 2015/16 football campaign is barely half done at this point, and the English Premier League has already been a bloodbath in terms of management shakeups. Liverpool sacked Brendan Rodgers; Aston Villa fired Tim Sherwood; Sunderland dismissed Dick Advocaat; Meanwhile, other managers like Louis van Gaal (Manchester United) and Steve McClaren (Newcastle United) could very well not last until the end of the season in their current positions.
A New Sacking Record
The Premier League's turnover rate has been modest compared to that of the Championship, too. Indeed, England's second professional football tier has sacked a combined total of 10 managers so far this season. In fact, according to the
Posted: January 29, 2016Categories: Chelsea
By Karl Matchett.
Chelsea are a club in transition once again, much sooner than they expected to be and in a far more volatile way than anybody could have expected, still only eight months after they won the Premier League title under Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese man is gone, Guus Hiddink is in-though another, more permanent, appointment will be made for head coach in the summer. The new new boss will have a mix of established talent and young prospects to work with, as well as an array of veterans who continue to divide opinion over their lingering suitability and level of quality.
Whoever comes in it can be expected that the blues will make significant changes to their squad in the summer, and still potentially even an addition in the final days of this transfer window; here we identify
Posted: January 28, 2016Categories: Bayern Munich
By Greg Lea.
After five weeks off, normal service was resumed. If the 17 other Bundesliga clubs were hoping that Bayern Munich would return from German football's winter break rusty rather than refreshed, they were left disappointed by events at Volksparkstadion on Friday night.
Bayern, in truth, were not particularly impressive against Hamburg, Robert Lewandowski's brace securing a narrow 2-1 win after a rather average at least by the Bavarians' lofty standards all-round performance. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola's side remain eight points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table with 16 matches remaining, a margin that looks almost impossible for BVB to overhaul given Bayern's supremacy so far this term. It is a matter of when, not if, a fourth consecutive league title is wrapped up by Germany's biggest and richest club.
After characteristically controlling possession in the opening stages, a 37th-minute penalty from Lewandowki opened the
Posted: January 28, 2016Categories: Galatasaray
The 2015/16 season isn't treating Galatasaray very well thus far. The Turkish football club occupy the reigning champion position for the Turkish Super Lig. However, the Yellow-Reds are trailing significantly behind both Fenerbahce and Besiktas in the domestic league and have struggled so far to play at their usual levels of consistency. They even sacked their manager, Hamza Hamzao?lu, back in November, replacing him with Mustafa Denizli. So far, the shift has had little effect-clearly not the soccer club's intent.
Now, though, the Yellow-Reds are facing their biggest obstacle of the current campaign: potential sanctions for violating Financial Fair Play criteria. On Monday, January 18th, UEFA announced that Galatasaray had failed to comply with the financial rules for the 2015/16 season. The case has now been referred to the CFCB (Club Financial Control Body), who will decide the action that should be taken to punish Galatasaray for breaking the rules. Supposedly,
Posted: January 27, 2016Categories: Manchester United
It stands to reason that Adidas wants to see results at Manchester United. The sportswear company is, after all, paying the English football club £75 million per season for an association and kit manufacturing deal. At the beginning of the month, Adidas chief executive Herbet Heiner even went on record, suggesting that, while he was satisfied with the Manchester United branding deal, the club's "current playing style" wasn't exactly what his company would have hoped for this year.
Heiner's comments resonated with Man United fans, who continue to support the club despite what has been deemed a "boring" play style. Current manager Louis van Gaal, along with a soccer squad that has no clear or undisputed star, are both factors that have been blamed for a sleepy season at Old Trafford.
Posted: January 27, 2016Categories: Real Madrid
By Karl Matchett.
Real Madrid are still challenging in La Liga and the Champions League this season, but know they are facing a transfer ban for up to two windows, currently due to start in summer but which may be appealed and deferred until next January.
Zinedine Zidane is newly installed as manager and has taken over a side built with players signed for the likes of Rafa Benitez and Carlo Ancelotti, and has immediately shown a preference to go with a 4-3-3 formation to make use of his famed "BBC" attack, placing Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo either side of Karim Benzema. It's certainly a talented front line, but Real have frequently found themselves without at least one due to injury this season and at times the depth isn't quite there in Real's squad to not suffer a drop-off in quality when first XI stars are missing.
There was a month or two earlier this season where it looked like Juventus might stumble in their pursuit of a fifth consecutive Serie A title. Now, after 21 weeks of play in Italy's top-flight football league, the Zebras are just two points off the lead. Furthermore, Juventus have now won 11 Serie A matches in a row, and 13 of their last 14 games across all competitions.
Even last season, when Juve never left the top Serie A spot after taking up residence there in week four, the soccer club never managed an 11-game winning streak. In fact, the last time Juventus was in this kind of undefeated mode was in the middle of the 2013/14 Serie A campaign, when they won 12 games in a row from late October to late January. The Zebras, of course, won that league campaign with a record 102 points-17 points more than their nearest competitors, AS Roma.
With Pep Guardiola set to leave Bayern Munich at the conclusion of the 2015/16 season, the 45-year-old Spaniard will likely be the top target for clubs seeking new coaches this summer. So far, we're still not sure where Guardiola might end up club-wise, though he has intimated that he wants to work in England. Not surprisingly, the list of clubs that could hire Pep reads like a list of the Premier League's best teams. Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea have all been linked to potential deals with Bayern's championship king.
But is Pep Guardiola really that good? Could he really take a struggling soccer club like Manchester United and turn it back into a football dynasty? Or have his coaching abilities been exaggerated and inflated by the teams he was handed and the leagues in which he's worked?
Don't call it a comeback just yet, but Chelsea FC are beginning to resemble their old consistent selves again. The Blues haven't lost a match since Guus Hiddink took over as manager. Indeed, their last defeat came on December 14th against Leicester City-the last game for which Jose Mourinho was in charge. Granted, it hasn't been all wins for Chelsea since. The soccer club drew matches against Watford, Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion, and Everton. But sprinkled in among those stalemates have been a few promising victories, and the most promising of those yet took place over the weekend against Arsenal.
The last time the Blues took on their London rivals, it was the sixth week of the 2015/16 Premier League season and things were beginning to look dire for Chelsea. The football club had only won one of their first five matches, leaving the reigning Premier League champions in a not-so-stellar 16th place. Despite what was clearly a low-momentum time