Monthly Archives: May 2016

  1. What's Next for Leicester City?

    30th May 2016.
    It may not have been the most cinematic version of events, but it did the trick. On Sunday, May 1st, Leicester City drew an away match with Manchester United, missing an opportunity to clinch the Premier League title. With just three games left in the season, the Foxes went into the Man Utd match with 76 points-seven points ahead of their only remaining challengers, Tottenham Hotspur. Other one-time contenders like Arsenal and Manchester City had fallen by the wayside, leaving only these two teams as potential champions. The draw against United meant that the Spurs could still catch Leicester City, so fans had to wait to see their team win the Premier League title for the first time.

    As it turned out, those fans only had to wait a little more than 24 hours. On Monday, May 2nd, Tottenham Hotspur played their third-to-last 2015/16 match against Chelsea. It was an odd game for the Blues: they could either lose the game and remain

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  2. An Exceptional season at Tottenham: Toby Alderweireld

    27th May 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Tottenham Hotspur's astute signing of Toby Alderweireld has undoubtedly been one of the best pieces of business this season. Having enjoyed a remarkable stint on loan at Southampton last term, Spurs' decision to acquire his services to partner his Belgian countryman, Jan Vertonghen, at the back has seen the duo form a match made in heaven.

    Aside from being teammates at international level, where they're set to feature heavily in the upcoming Euros, Vertonghen and Alderweireld's relationship extends way back, for both men were part of Germinal Beerschot's impressive youth academy before leaving for Ajax a year apart (Alderweireld left in 2004 and Vertonghen in 2003).

    Their formidable partnership has undoubtedly been one of the cornerstones of Spurs' incredible season. The fact Mauricio Pochettino's side have the equal best defensive record in the Premier League, having only conceded 35 goals, is in large part due to their Belgian

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  3. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid to Do Battle for Champions League Title 2016

    26th May 2016.
    Two years ago, Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich on an aggregate of 5-0 to reach the finals of the 2013/14 Champions League match. A day later, their crosstown rivals, Atletico Madrid, beat Chelsea 3-1 to earn their spot in the championship match. The Vikings ultimately went on to win the tournament and clinch a record 10th UCL trophy-though Atletico's Mattress Makers fought hard and forced extra time in the title game.

    Fast forward to now and it's easy to feel like we're experiencing something similar to déjà vu. The semi-final draw included three of four teams that made it this far in 2013/14 (Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich) while the fourth challenger was an English team (this year, Manchester City stood in for Chelsea). This time around, Atletico Madrid got to face off against Bayern Munich, eliminating the German heavyweights on away goals. Real Madrid, meanwhile, got to tangle with Man City, ultimately sending the Pr

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  4. Atletico Madrid: more than just a solid unit

    18th May 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    It was a goal of sheer, expressive beauty. More than simply a magnificent goal, it made us question what we thought we knew, the absolutes that we'd cemented in our minds, and the lines we'd drawn in defining what we had seen before.

    As Saúl Ñíguez set off on his slaloming dribble that would culminate in the opening goal of Atlético Madrid's Champions League semi-final, first leg tie against Bayern Munich, he defied what we had taken for granted about his team.

    This Atléti team, built by Argentinian manager Diego Simeone, were a resolute unit, drilled to within an inch of their lives. They had gotten to where they are both in terms of reaching the latter stages of this season's Champions League, as well as, more broadly, their rise to being considered among the continent's elite teams by grinding out narrow victories.

    Victories constructed on the foundation of a near impenetrable defence, against teams often filled with more

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  5. Ever Banega: Wickedly talented Sevilla Central Midfielder

    22nd May 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    With his side trailing 1-0 at half time in their Europa League final clash with Liverpool at St. Jakob-Park, Sevilla coach, Unai Emery, got his team talk spot on, inspiring his players to go on and win the competition for an unprecedented third time in a row.

    "We organised our minds at the break and we knew why we had reached this stage," he said. "We had to remember that the neutral pitch was the Sanchez Pizjuan, that we were in Seville. And the team took off."

    Considering Sevilla had failed to win all of their matches away from home in La Liga, his words made perfect sense. And they must have struck a cord with their chief creative weapon, Ever Banega, who's had a frustratingly inconsistent year and is reportedly on the verge of leaving for Inter Milan, for after the break he lifted his game accordingly to match the enormity of the occasion.

    While he was still industrious in the first half, the enigmatic Argentine really

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  6. Mainz's inspirational captain, Julian Baumgartlinger

    20th May 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Mainz's inspirational captain, Julian Baumgartlinger, has unquestionably been one of their most influential driving forces behind their remarkable season.

    Martin Schmidt's high octane outfit obtained an amazing sixth place league finish, just five points outside the Champions League qualification places, and Baumgartlinger's energy, intensity and aggression in midfield were absolutely crucial to this. He is indeed the man whose unwavering commitment and dedication to the cause sets the tone perfectly for his teammates to follow, and who best embodies his manager's all-action philosophy.

    Within Schmidt's side, who run and sprint more than any team in the Bundesliga, the ultra fit Austrian, who himself runs over 12km per game on average, along with using his obvious footballing qualities, has ensured that he's been an undisputed starter for Mainz.

    Unsurprisingly, he's started every single match he's been available for except

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  7. The Difference Between Vapor Match Jerseys and Stadium Shirts

    18th May 2016.
    With the summer's 2016 European Championship tournament getting closer and closer, it's time to start thinking about picking up a football kit or two to show support for your favorite national team. For teams that use Nike as a kit manufacturer, the American sportswear company has given fans a wider array of options to choose from with its latest batch of jersey releases. In addition to the obvious variations that are always there in the jersey market-home and away kits, jerseys and tees-Nike has also unveiled different kit varieties this year.

    Nike's Two Jersey Types

    On one side of the conversation, we have the Nike Vapor Match shirts. On the other side, there are the Nike Stadium shirts. Viewed independently, these two kits could easily be taken to the be the "official" jerseys for their respective teams (or perhaps as similar designs of the same team's jersey from different years). There are

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  8. Xabi Alonso FC Bayern's Talented Central Midfielder

    13th May 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Following his record 17th Champions League semifinal, a landmark that Cristiano Ronaldo also achieved this week, Xabi Alonso could be satisfied that he did everything in his power to help Bayern Munich overcome Atletico Madrid.

    Ultimately, despite playing a tactically excellent game, Pep Guardiola's side cruelly bowed out against Diego Simeone's dogged outfit 2-2 on aggregate due to away goals. But in the wake of the sheer disappointment attached to the result for Bayern, Alonso's incredible showing only served to highlight just what a sensational player the now 34-year-old still is.

    He played an absolutely vital role for his side, both with and without the ball, in a match where his tactical intelligence and technical gifts shone brightly throughout.

    With Guardiola knowing Atleti would be playing in their customary 4-4-2 formation, he made the shrewd decision to split his centre backs, Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng,

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  9. Three suggestions for the next Everton manager

    13th May 2016. By Ryan Baldi
    Upon his appointment as Everton manager in the summer of 2013, Roberto Martínez brought hope of a new era at Goodison Park. An era of free-flowing, attacking football. David Moyes had departed to join Manchester United, and Martínez was ready to throw out his predecessor's defence-first manual, in favour of expression and entertainment.

    And maybe even some silverware. Martínez had, after all, guided relegated Wigan Athletic to an unlikely FA Cup triumph the previous season. Could an end to the Toffees' trophy drought be on the horizon?

    Not quite. Having finished fifth in the Premier League on an impressive 72 points after his first season in charge, Everton regressed to eleventh last term, accumulating only 47 points. This season has been no better, and the powers that be have decided to part ways with the Spanish tactician.

    Everton fans had grown progressively frustrated with their side's underachievement despite having, in ma

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  10. Sevilla will Aim to Defend Europa League Title

    12th May 2016.
    Sevilla made Europa League history a year ago, beating Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3-2 in the championship match to clinch their fourth title. It was a record-breaking moment for the Spanish soccer club, putting them above Juventus, Inter Milan, and Liverpool in the annals of UEFA's second-tier European club football tournament. Now, following an exciting semi-final round, Sevilla will seek to defend their Europa League title against Liverpool, who themselves are looking to tie the four-title record.

    A Premium Match-up

    Needless to say, the final-which is scheduled for May 18th at St. Jakob-Park in Switzerland-will be one of the highest-profile in the history of the Europa League. Rarely do we see such heavyweight battles in the Europa League.

    Sure, Sevilla and Liverpool aren't the top teams in their home countries and would probably struggle to make it out of the groups in the Champions

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