Monthly Archives: April 2016
- April 30, 2016
30th April 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
When Pascal Dupraz took over the managerial reigns at Toulouse at the beginning of March, he knew he had his work cut out to save le Tefece from relegation.
With the club 19th on the table and a whopping 10 points from safety, Dupraz was eager to get stuck in and set about reversing the club's fortunes. Firstly, before he could even really get started, the 53-year-old had to overcome a major health scare that he suffered on just his second day in charge.
"The first moments with Toulouse were tough for me, I signed on a Wednesday then collapsed on the training pitch on the Thursday. It will be remembered as part of my time here with Toulouse," Dupraz explained to the Ligue 1 Show.
The signs were indeed ominous for the seemingly doomed club, but Dupraz's tenure has been an overwhelmingly positive one so far, especially considering the horrific rut Toulouse were in when he took over. Dupraz has overseen his side get to within
- April 29, 2016
29th April 2016. By Karl Matchett.
Another reasonably disappointing season is fast coming to a close for Manchester United, once perennial title winners but now busy establishing themselves as one of the several clubs on the outside of the top four looking in.
The Old Trafford team could still end up with the consolation prize of winning the FA Cup, a fine return for any team in any campaign, but in truth their path to the final was rather straight-forward and the final itself is unlikely to be a classic, paired up as they are against Crystal Palace. Meanwhile, United fell out of Europe at the first, embarrassingly low hurdle, then were knocked out of the second tier of continental competition by their biggest rivals Liverpool and, barring a collapse from Arsenal or Manchester City, won't finish higher than fifth in the Premier League this season.
The Red Devils have work to do over summer, which could include replacing the manager, but must include
- April 28, 2016
28th April 2016. By Greg Lea.
When the draw for the semi-finals of the Europa League was made a fortnight ago, the majority of Liverpool fans reacted well to being paired with Villarreal. Shakhtar Donetsk, another potential opponent in the last four, had impressed in defeating Schalke, Anderlecht and Braga in previous knockout rounds, with many Reds supporters also pleased to dodge Sevilla, the defending champions who have triumphed in the competition twice in the last two years.
A glance at the La Liga table would suggest the confident reaction to the draw may have been misplaced, however: Villarreal have amassed nine points more than Sevilla this year and, if you share the common belief that the table never lies at this late stage of the season, are thus a better team than Unai Emery's side. Rather astonishingly, Sevilla have still not won a single game away from home in the league, with just two matches left for them to rectify that record as they attempt to
- April 27, 2016
27th April 2016. By Karl Matchett.
Paris Saint-Germain have already been linked in the global media with potentially pursuing a change in their management over the summer months, with Laurent Blanc having failed to mastermind a challenge on the UEFA Champions League this season once again.
Whether the French club do decide to dispense with the current boss or not, there is still likely to be an overhaul in one particular area of the playing staff: the attacking line, which has already lost one component and could see another two parts depart Paris this summer. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out of contract and has given no assurances that he'll remain in place, while Edinson Cavani has been strongly linked with a move away after two years of playing on the flank rather than centrally. Add in Ezequiel Lavezzi's mid-season departure and PSG will clearly have spaces in attack to fill, as well as potentially three big wages off their payroll.
With that in mind and considering
- April 26, 2016
26th April 2016.
To say that it's been an odd year in the FA Cup would be an understatement. Last year, after heavyweight clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur were all eliminated in the round of 32, pundits labeled the tournament as one of the most wide-open in FA Cup history. Still, despite all of the ado about underdogs and upsets, Arsenal still defended their 2013/14 title to clinch the FA Cup trophy for the 12th time.
The 2015/16 FA Cup has taken almost the direct opposite narrative. Early rounds made it look as if the Premier League's top clubs would dominate the tournament. Chelsea, Manchester United, and Arsenal all made it to the quarterfinals, with none of them pitted against one another. It was almost an unspoken agreement that all three clubs would make it to the semi-finals. As it turned out, only one of them did.
Indeed, where last year's
- April 25, 2016
25th April 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
Harry Kane burst into the wider footballing conscience during the latter months of 2014. His blend of physical prowess, devastating finishing ability and keen sense for finding space in the opposition's penalty area, marked him out as a real prospect within the English game. Kane's status as the Premier League's brightest new thing was rubber stamped by a brace in a 5-3 victory over Chelsea on New Year's Day 2015. Seemingly out of nowhere, Tottenham Hotspur had unearthed a gem of a striker.
Following Kane's breakout 2014-15 campaign -- in which he netted 26 goals in all competitions and registered four assists -- many onlookers were quick to write the young Spurs player off as a one season wonder. A player who'd previously shown little sign of such potential surely wouldn't be able to replicate this success
- April 24, 2016
24th April 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
For Kevin Stewart, making his full Premier League debut in Liverpool's exceptional 4-1 victory over Stoke City a few weeks ago would've felt like the perfect reward for all his perseverance.
For the man who joined the Reds in 2014 from Tottenham on a free transfer, he can now be absolutely satisfied that moving to Anfield was the best move for his career. Upon arriving on Merseyside, Stewart was a budding fullback, but Liverpool's U21 coach Michael Beale and academy director, Alex Inglethorpe, who had previously worked with Stewart at Tottenham, thought he possessed all the attributes to become a fine midfielder. And so the transformation began.
"Kevin came here as a full-back a bit like Flanno (Jon Flanagan) as he wanted to be a right-footed left-back," Beale said.
"He could also play centre-half but that was never really his position.
"In his first or second training session with us I had a conversation with Alex
- April 23, 2016
23rd April 2016.
A year ago, Sevilla FC made history by becoming the first football club ever to win the Europa League four times. Equally remarkable, the win marked the second time that Sevilla had won back-to-back UEL titles, as the team had won their first three titles in 2006, 2007, and 2014, respectively. Now, with just four teams left standing in Europe's secondary club football competition, Sevilla are looking to make history once more, by winning the tournament for a third time in a row.
Already, Sevilla is the only team ever to win two Europa Leagues back-to-back, and they've done it twice. If any team is going to win three in a row, it's only fitting that the Red and Whites would be that organization.
The Semi-Final Draw
Not that Sevilla has the easiest path to the top of the podium. Competition is heating up in the 2015/16 Europa League-to the point where the Red and Whites only just
- April 22, 2016
22nd April 2016. By Karl Matchett.
Juventus are on course to record a fifth successive Italian Serie A championship, needing just one more win from their final four games to all but mathematically secure what will go down as a memorable comeback triumph.
Serie A rulings dictate that head-to-head, then goal difference, separates teams on the same amount of points, so Juve can't quite wrap up their latest Scudetto away to Fiorentina on Saturday-although they could then be crowned champions if Napoli fail to beat AS Roma a day later, or indeed do not win every game they have left this season while Juventus continually drop points. All told, it's a sure thing that the bianconeri will be celebrating once more come the end of the season, especially should they go on to beat AC Milan and retain the Coppa Italia as well to complete another domestic double.
Given the shoddy start to the season that
- April 21, 2016
21st April 2016. By Greg Lea.
The Premier League title race is well and truly on. Leicester City's 2-2 draw with West Ham United on Sunday afternoon opened the door for Tottenham Hotspur, who duly took full advantage by thrashing Stoke City 4-0 to move to within five points of the Foxes at the top of the table.
It was an emphatic victory and brilliant showing from Spurs at the Britannia Stadium, particularly as the pressure had been heaped upon them following Leicester's dropped points. The fact that they were able to go away from home and get the win that was necessary underlined their championship credentials; the fact that they did so while playing some sublime football and carving Stoke open at will was even more impressive.
Tottenham were fantastic throughout, clinical in attack and resolute at the back. They created a number of excellent scoring chances, particularly in the second half, and countered with great speed and efficiency without ever leaving themselves