Monthly Archives: April 2016

  1. PSG's Talented Midfielder Adrien Rabiot

    10th April 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    PSG's monumental Champions League quarter-final clash with Manchester City presented Adrien Rabiot with the perfect chance to show how far he's come since first joining the Manchester club as a 13-year-old.

    Having spent just six months with City, Rabiot's defiant mother, Veronique, decided she wasn't impressed with the way the club was handling her boy and made the call for him to return home.

    Once back in France, after spells with small outfits, Pau and Pole Espoirs de Castelmaurou, PSG, well aware of his obvious talent, offered him the chance to join their prestigious academy aged 15. Unsurprisingly, he didn't hesitate in accepting their invitation.

    The manager in charge at the time was Carlo Ancelotti, and he immediately recognised the immense talent of Rabiot and, only a year after he'd

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  2. Can Hertha Berlin Land a UCL Spot for Next Season?

    9th April 2016.
    The last time Hertha Berlin qualified for the UEFA Champions League, it was 1999. As with so many other seasons, the 1998/99 Bundesliga campaign ended with Bayern Munich topping the table by a considerable margin. The battle for second place, though, was quite close, with Bayer Leverkusen eking out the runner-up finish with a point total of 63. Hertha BSC trailed just one point behind, beating Borussia Dortmund by five points for a podium position.

    That strong finish came in the midst of a surprisingly strong period in the Old Lady's history. Just two years previously, Hertha Berlin had been playing second-tier football. In 1998, they sputtered to a middle-of-the-road 11th place finish in the Bundesliga. But from 1999 to 2003, Hertha Berlin landed in the top six every season-always notching European qualification.

    Of that strong five-season run, though, the 1999/2000 campaign was the only year

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  3. Valencia summer transfers must address key squad deficiencies

    8th April 2016. By Karl Matchett.
    A huge spending spree two seasons ago gave rise to the hope for fans of Valencia that their team was on the cusp of a rebirth, an ability to once again challenge the top three sides and push their way back amongst Spain's elite in La Liga.

    Under Nuno, a top-four finish in 2014-15 seemed to be proof of that; Los Che were strong defensively and had promising young talent in attack-but over the summer, worrying signs began to emerge. Valencia didn't add to their squad so much as solidify what they already had, concluding permanent deals for the likes of Joao Cancelo and Andre Gomes as well as overpaying heavily for striker Alvaro Negredo, not a goal threat last term but an obligated purchase after Champions League qualification was assured.

    It was a poor summer for their transfer work and the upcoming off-season has to not only rectify the mistakes already made, but ensure that new ones

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  4. A Bittersweet Win for Arsenal Against Watford

    7th April 2016. By Greg Lea.
    After Arsenal's 4-0 thrashing of Watford at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon, it was difficult to work out whether to be impressed or disappointed by the Gunners. While their performance was excellent and the result kept alive their slim hopes of winning the Premier League title, it was almost impossible not to be frustrated at Arsenal's inability to turn in a similar sort of display when they were in a far healthier position a few weeks ago.

    If they fail to finish on top of the pile and with surprise leaders Leicester City now 11 points clear of them at the summit, that looks likely it will be 13 seasons since Arsenal last claimed the championship crown. It would be unfair to assert that they should have been winning the league for much of that stretch, with Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City all able to spend far more for much of the last decade as Arsenal's funds were split

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  5. Imperfect defence means Liverpool need big attacking performance to succeed in Europe

    6th April 2016. By Karl Matchett.
    The tie of the round in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals sees Jurgen Klopp's current side take on his old one, with Liverpool travelling to Borussia Dortmund for the first leg on Thursday.

    While improvements have clearly been made to the English club's way of playing under Klopp, in both halves of the field, he is still ultimately working with the same players that have been in place and flattered to deceive for the past season and a half; in other words, there's only so much he can do with a better shape and tactical game plan, if the individual errors are still frequently seen.

    The biggest issue remains the defence. It is stronger and more consistent than it was last season, or even in the first half of this campaign, but still the problems remain. Mamadou Sakho is the best defender in the squad, but remains prone to the odd half-hour meltdown. It can cost Liverpool

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  6. The Decline of the Turkish Super Lig

    5th April 2016.
    Turkish football fans have been hit with one piece of bad news after another, as of late. First, a February 21st Super Lig match between Galatasaray and Trabzonspor became global news, after referee Deniz Ates Bitnel red-carded not one, not two, but four Trabzonspor players in the space of the second half. Then, Galatasaray received a two-year ban from UEFA competitions for violating Financial Fair Play rules. Next, on March 25th, Fenerbahce became the last Turkish soccer club to exit the 2015/16 Europa League, losing 1-4 in their second-leg round of 16 match against Braga. Finally, Turkish soccer authorities were forced to cancel a March 20th derby between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, due to a threat that reportedly came from ISIS.

    Of course, not all of these stumbles and woes have been related in the slightest, beyond the fact that they all involved Turkish soccer.

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  7. A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Soccer Ball

    football4th April 2016.
    Whether you want to train your kids to play like the best footballers from Barcelona FC or Bayern Munich, or are joining a hobbyist soccer league for yourself, one of the first things you'll need to buy is a high-quality football. When you first start playing football, you can make do without the right boots/cleats/shoes or the ideal shorts or jerseys. Without a proper soccer ball, though, you can't start playing the game or learning the basics. Luckily, this guide is here to answer all of the questions you might have about purchasing the right ball for the job.

    The Basics

    Casual soccer fans, or even some die-hard supporters who have never played the game themselves, may think that all footballs are more or less the same. This belief isn't

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  8. Vagner Love ~ The Making of a Cult Hero at AS Monaco

    3rd April 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    During his eight seasons in Russia, spanning two separate spells, Vagner Love cemented himself as quite possibly CSKA Moscow's greatest ever player. Bagging an astonishing 117 goals in 241 official matches for the Moscovites speaks volumes of the predatory Brazilian's masterful striking instincts.

    Most impressively, the highly recognisable figure, not just for his dynamism upfront but also courtesy of his dyed blue and green dreadlocks, even helped the club win their first ever UEFA competition by beating Sporting in the 2005 edition of the UEFA Cup. While this was undoubtedly his biggest achievement of the 14 trophies he secured with CSKA, his three league titles and six Russian Cup wins add further gloss to what was an utterly successfully career for him in the Russian capital.

    Having also spent time with the likes of Palmeiras, Flamengo and Corinthians, plus Chinese Super League

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  9. La Liga vs Premier League: Which Heavyweight Football Division is Stronger?

    2nd April 2016.
    Luis Suarez has enjoyed nothing but success since making the move from Liverpool to Barcelona ahead of the 2014/15 season. In his first campaign with Barca, Suarez won the treble and was a finalist for UEFA's Best Player in Europe Award. He also got to play alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar in what many have called one of the best front threes in football history. This season, meanwhile, the Uruguayan striker is duking it out with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to be the La Liga's top scorer-all while hoping for a second treble in a row for Barcelona.

    With all of this success, it would be easy for Suarez to call his time in the Spanish La Liga the highlight of his career. Yet, in

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  10. El Clasico will shape Real Madrid's transfer plans for the summer

    1st April 2016. By Karl Matchett.
    Third in La Liga, not among the front-runners for the UEFA Champions League and dismissed from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player-all told, 2015-16 won't go down as one of the more memorable campaigns in Real Madrid's history.

    The issues have been vast and varied throughout the season, from the bungled transfer deadline day approach for David de Gea, through to hiring and firing Rafa Benitez, appointing a rookie boss in Zinedine Zidane and with a whole host of issues on the playing squad side of the club.

    One final chance-other than an unexpected path to the final and win in Europe-for redemption for the season comes in the shape of El Clasico this weekend, and an opportunity for some of Real Madrid's big players who have underperformed this term to suggest they still have a lot to offer going forward. If they can cope with and defeat

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