Monthly Archives: January 2016

  1. Euro 2016 Group Stage Predictions

    The 2016 UEFA European Championship won't get underway until June 10th of next year. As of early December, though, the group stage draws for the tournament are set. With 24 teams spread across six groups, which countries will rise and which will fall in the first round of this prestigious football tournament? Read on to check out our predictions for each of the six groups.

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    The Group: A
    The Teams: France, Romania, Albania, Switzerland
    The Likely Outcome: France are the natural frontrunners here. In addition to being the tournament hosts, France are also the only soccer team in this group that have won a previous European Championship title-let alone two. France won in both 1984 (also at a tournament they hosted) and 2000 and have had a fairly solid year,

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  2. Tottenham Require a New Striker as Backup for Kane

    By Greg Lea.

    The shot seemed to be the wrong option, but Harry Kane was adamant.

    As a loose ball fell at his feet in the first half of Tottenham Hotspur's 1-1 draw against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, the England international hit a low drive towards the bottom corner and watched it agonisingly rebound off the inside of the post and away from the danger zone. Kane has occasionally been criticised for shooting from outside the box too often, but this fine effort showcased why he invariably fancies himself to find the back of the net even from long distances.

    Despite a slow start, Kane has enjoyed another excellent campaign in 2015/16. The 22-year-old made a stunning breakthrough at White Hart Lane last term, scoring 21 goals in 34 Premier League appearances, and currently has 11 strikes to his name in 20 outings in this time around.

    It is the type of scoring ratio that all managers want from their leading centre-forward, with Kane also invaluable because

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  3. Arsenal Holds Strong to Lead Premier League Standings to Kickoff 2016

    A long, competitive, and exhaustingly busy Premier League festive period came to an end on Sunday, January 3rd, finally giving England's top football clubs a deserved break. The Premier League's teams will take the pitch again next week, on January 12th and 13th, but until then, we, at last, have a chance to let the dust settle and survey the current landscape of the league.

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    Arsenal's Chance

    The big question in the wake of the busy festive period is whether or not 2016 might finally be Arsenal's year. The Gunners, of course, have been remarkably consistent throughout the entirety of Arsene Wenger's coaching tenure, finishing in the top five every year since 1996. However, not since 2004 have Arsenal

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  4. Centre-back transfer options for injury stricken Liverpool in January

    By Karl Matchett.
    Liverpool picked up an impressive and important first leg victory in the Capital One Cup at Stoke City on Tuesday night, winning 1-0 thanks to Jordon Ibe's first-half goal-but the success came at a cost, with three players suffering hamstring injuries on the night.

     

    Philippe Coutinho went off injured in the first half and Dejan Lovren followed him shortly afterward, leaving Lucas Leiva having to fill in alongside Kolo Toure at centre-back-and Toure himself hobbled toward full time after suffering severe cramp in his hamstring. With Martin Skrtel sidelined with the same issue, Mamadou Sakho also sidelined and Joe Gomez out for the season, the Reds are down to just one mostly-fit veteran centre-back as they head into a run of five games in 18 days.

     

    With that in mind, manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted he may need to look for defensive

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  5. Atletico Madrid Back in Front as La Liga Heads into 2016

    What a difference half a year makes. Last May, as the sun set on the 2014/15 La Liga season, Atletico Madrid weren't even particularly close to defending the title they had won a year before. The Mattress Makers finished the 2014/15 campaign in a respectable third place. However, their point tally of 78 was so far from Real Madrid (92) and Barcelona (94), that Atletico was hardly even in the same league, quality-wise.

    Fast-forward to the first week of the New Year, though, and Atletico Madrid are back in the driver's seat, their consistency putting them above the flashier soccer squads of both Barca and Real Madrid. The Mattress Makers did lose one of their festive period fixtures, falling 0-1 to Malaga just five days before Christmas. However, Atletico followed that match up with two consecutive shutout victories, beating Rayo Vallecano 2-0 on December 30th and topping Levante 1-0 on the second day of the New Year.

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  6. Rafa Benitez Sacked by Real Madrid

    Rafael Benitez has been sacked as Real Madrid's head coach, following the football club's middling draw against Valencia on Sunday. The 55-year-old Spanish manager-who has previously served coaching stints with Valencia, Liverpool, and Napoli, among others-had only been in charge at the Bernabeu for seven months. However, from very early on, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Benitez.

    Last spring, when Benitez was hired, fans, soccer pundits, and even (reportedly) Real Madrid players were still heartily upset over the unceremonious sacking of Carlo Ancelotti. Ancelotti, of course, had helped the Vikings win a landmark 10th Champions League title in 2014 and had coached the soccer team within one of Barcelona's greatest squads ever in the 2014/15 La Liga. Benitez had big shoes to fill from the beginning, and rumors that Cristiano Ronaldo was unhappy with his appointment (to the point of looking for a transfer elsewhere) certainly didn't ease the pressure.

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  7. What a 40 Team World Cup Could Mean for this Popular Football Tournament

    FIFA has been the subject of much controversy, with allegations of bribes and investigations of high-ranking officials tarnishing the integrity of the entire sport of football. Unsurprisingly, the global soccer organization is considering what has been dubbed "a very comprehensive reform package." What is surprising is that this "reform package" wouldn't just be bent on stopping corruption, but would also change the makeup of one of what is perhaps the world's biggest sporting event: the FIFA World Cup. Proposals for a 40 team World Cup have been discussed, but what would this mean?

    A 40 Team World Cup?

    According to a recent report from The Guardian, FIFA officials discussed a wide range of topics at their executive committee meeting on Thursday, December 3rd, including the possibility of expanding the competing fields for future World Cup events to 40 teams. Currently, the final World Cup tournament

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  8. Napoli's passed maturity test symbolises a foundation to build upon

    It was never going to be pretty. A tough away trip to Bergamo faced Napoli after having drawn and lost in the previous two rounds against Bologna and Roma. Conversely, Atalanta had beaten both Roma and Lazio this term and looked to enact a similar fate to the Neapolitans.

    Many neutrals thought another consecutive disappointing result for Napoli would help to derail their push for a Champions League place, given their history in these situations and just how competitive this campaign has been. This current season in Italy has been largely unpredictable and exciting, therefore no one really knew what to expect at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia.

    A victory was needed to shake off their inconsistent form and end the year on a positive note for Maurizio Sarri's men, with Champions League aspirations and a deep run in the Europa League a benchmark for the Partenopei.

    Recent seasons have highlighted

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  9. Werder Bremen Stuck in the Danger Zone Heading into 2016

    In the 2014 2015 Bundesliga season, Werder Bremen won 11 games, drew 10, and lost 13. It wasn't a great record, by any means, but it was enough to put the River Islanders in the league's top 10 and to keep them well out of relegation range. So far, though, the 2015 2016 campaign has been nowhere near as kind to Werder Bremen. The football club picked up a 0-3 loss in their season opening match against Schalke 04, and things have hardly improved since. With a 1-2 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, December 19th, the River Islanders dropped to 16th place on the Bundesliga table-back in the danger zone, they've been trying to escape all season long.

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    A Sour Note

    The

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  10. Paris Saint Germain Excel as Ligue 1 Heads to Winter Break

    Can anyone keep Paris Saint Germain from winning a fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title in 2016? With competition in the French top-flight officially on hold until January 8th, it certainly doesn't seem like it. In just 19 games, the Parisians have managed to put 19 points between themselves and their nearest competitors. With a record of 16 wins, three draws, and zero losses, they are not only the single undefeated football club on the table, but the only team to have fewer than three losses so far this season. PSG have also won seven more games than any other soccer squad in the division-a remarkable feat that almost makes their 2015 2016 Ligue 1 title seem like a foregone conclusion.

    The Hunt for an Undefeated Season

    Paris Saint Germain, of course, have been no strangers to success, as of late. Since the 2012 2013 season, they've managed three Ligue 1 titles, one Coupe de France, two Coupe de la Ligue trophies,

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