Monthly Archives: March 2016
- March 11, 2016
By Karl Matchett.
Carlo Ancelotti won't rock up at the Allianz Arena until summer, when Pep Guardiola in turn leaves for the Premier League and Manchester City, but already there are suggestions and rumours as to who the Italian will want at the Bundesliga club for next season.
The first big name featured in the rumour mill over the last few days is attacking playmaker Mario Gotze, with the German unable to really establish himself as a guaranteed starter since leaving Borussia Dortmund for their great rivals. With one year left on his contract, Gotze has been linked with a host of sides outside of the Bundesliga and the suggestion is that Ancelotti doesn't see a future for him at Bayern.
He's unlikely to be the only one facing that prospect.Â
- March 10, 2016
By Greg Lea.
With the two teams in contention for the Premier League title, last weekend's meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal was billed by many as the most important north London derby of all-time. For the first time in the fixture's history, the biggest winners were Leicester City.
Both Mauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger expressed regret that their team were unable to claim all three points from the clash at White Hart Lane, which ended with Spurs and Arsenal each taking a share of the spoils after an entertaining 2-2 draw. The fact that their two closest rivals both dropped points was fantastic news for table-topping Leicester, who duly took full advantage with a 1-0 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road that moved them five points clear at the summit of the standings a few hours later. It was a showing that gave the best indication yet that Claudio Ranieri's side have what it takes to pull off what would be the most extraordinary title triumph
- March 09, 2016
By Karl Matchett.
Into the last eight of the UEFA Champions League went Real Madrid on Tuesday night as they beat AS Roma 2-0, 4-0 on aggregate, with goalkeeper Keylor Navas making several saves along the way to ensure he still hasn't conceded a single goal in Europe this season.
The result and the progression were impressive in isolation, but the fact of the match mirrored that of Real Madrid's recent displays all round: open and susceptible to conceding chances defensively and reliant on a clinical attack to outscore the opposition.
Over the past two fixtures, Zinedine Zidane has attempted to redress the balance of the
- March 08, 2016
Looking at recent domestic league statistics, it would be easy to put Paris Saint Germain on the shortlist of European football powerhouses. The soccer club has won three consecutive titles in France's Ligue 1 and could more or less coast to another in the 2015/16 campaign. That dominance is similar to what Bayern Munich have managed in Germany, or what Juventus have orchestrated in Italy, and we all know that those two teams are probably in the top five for all of Europe's soccer clubs.
No European Titles
Unlike Bayern Munich and Juventus, though, there is some question about whether or not PSG have what it takes to compete with the top European clubs. Both Bayern and Juve have won the Champions League title before-Bayern five times and Juventus twice. In addition, both clubs have experienced great success at the tournament recently. The
- March 07, 2016
By Edward Stratmann.
An utterly proud Diego Simeone was quick to lavish praise on all of his players following their magnificent 1-0 derby victory over Real Madrid last weekend.
"The line of four was brilliant. Filipe Luis was amazing. Juanfran closed his wing very well. Augusto and Gabi were two tremendous lungs in the midfield. Big heart from Saul and lots of calmness from Koke. Great character in Griezmann and great enthusiasm and passion from Fernando to run for impossible balls," insisted the overjoyed Argentine manager.
"That led us to have a chance, solve it in the best way and achieve the win."
He couldn't have been more spot on in his assessment. His team played brilliantly, as they showed that customary togetherness and fighting spirit
- March 07, 2016
Right now, Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, and arguably even West Ham United are all battling to clinch one of the English Premier League's top four spots. As in previous years, the top four clubs in the division this season will qualify for the Champions League-with the top three earning entry into the group stage and the fourth-place club heading into the final play-off round.
The race for these four slots is even more intense this year, given the fact that last year's EPL champion-Chelsea FC-has very little chance of qualifying for the Champions League. As such, clubs that haven't traditionally qualified for Europe's most prestigious tournament in the past-Leicester, Tottenham, and West Ham are getting ever close to breaking the cycle in 2016.
But what if England didn't get four spots in the Champions League? Recent rumors have suggested that the Premier League could, at some point in the not-too-distant future, be
- March 06, 2016
There's an outside chance that Manchester United could still finish in the top three in the 2015/16 Premier League. Who knows, the football club could even collect some silverware this season, with both the FA Cup and the Europa League still up for grabs.
Still, by most metrics, the 2015/16 season has not been a terrific one for Man United. The Red Devils have failed to return to their previous heights of Premier League dominance, even with last season's champions (Chelsea FC) flaming out of the title race early on. Rumors about Louis van Gaal exiting the job of manager-either by way of sacking or resignation-have also been commonplace this season. Even Adidas, United's kit manufacturer, acknowledged how boring the team's soccer squad has looked out on the field this season.
The Birth of a Star?
Regardless of these factors, though, there have still been a few bright spots in Manchester United's 2015/16 campaign.
- March 05, 2016
By Edward Stratmann.
Despite Crystal Palace ultimately being unable to hold on for their first victory in 10 EPL matches - succumbing to a late Fabio Borini strike to draw 2-2 with Sunderland - positives could once again be drawn from Yannick Bolasie's so far encouraging return to action.
In just his third game back from a hip injury, he followed on nicely from his strong body of work against West Bromwich Albion on the weekend, as the stage appeared set for him and the Eagles to finally notch up their first win since December 19, 2015. After all, in last season's fixture away at Sunderland, Bolasie was magnificent, scoring a breathtaking hat-trick, in a match where he ran riot against the hapless Black Cats defence.
Moreover, the last win Alan Pardew's men enjoyed, a 2-1 triumph against Stoke
- March 04, 2016
Barcelona beat Rayo Vallecano on Thursday night to set a new record of 35 unbeaten matches, but as both Luis Enrique and Leo Messi have said this season, records themselves mean little without the silverware to go with them.
The relentless nature of Barca's performances of late don't indicate much chance of a slip-up any time soon from the Catalan giants, but they should still be looking at the upcoming couple of games as an opportunity: a chance to rotate the side a little more heavily before a period which will determine exactly if they can go on and repeat last season's treble success.
In terms of La Liga, the last five fixtures will pose no problems at all. If Barcelona still hold a points advantage over Atletico
- March 03, 2016
By Greg Lea.
If any further proof was needed of how quickly things can change in the world of football, Inter's downturn in fortunes in the last couple of months provides a perfect case study.
When Serie A resumed in early January after a two-week winter break, Roberto Mancini's men found themselves a point clear at the top of the table, with their first 17 matches yielding 11 wins, three draws and only three losses. A few short weeks later, Inter have fallen below Juventus, Napoli, Roma and Fiorentina and into fifth place, with a hefty margin of 13 points now separating them from the summit of the standings.
They have won only two of their last nine outings a run that has featured draws with Carpi, Atalanta and Hellas Verona and defeats to Sassuolo and dreaded rivals Milan with Sunday night's 2-0 reverse at the hands of Juventus in Turin meaning there has been a 21-point swing away from Inter and towards the Bianconeri in just 19 Serie A games. All of a sudden, Champions