Monthly Archives: May 2016

  1. England's Euro 2016 Prep: Key Dates International Competition

    10th May 2016.
    By virtually all accounts, the England national football team have a better chance at winning a European Championship title this year than they ever have before. Not only did the Three Lions sail through the qualifying rounds with a perfect record of 10 victories, but England also beat reigning World Cup champions Germany in a friendly fixture in late March. Add the fact that England has a considerable amount of soccer talent right now-with several sure-to-be-included players, such as Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, peaking at the perfect time-and there's a definite possibility that the country's long international title drought could come to an end this summer.

    Of course, nothing is guaranteed. Just about a month remains until the Three Lions take the pitch in France for their first Euro 2016 fixture. Manager Roy Hodgson and his 23-man squad-whatever

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  2. The Development David de Gea from Young and Naive to Superstar Goalkeeper

    9th May 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    David de Gea was crowned Manchester United's player of the season for the third time running this week. And in doing so, he became the first player to win the award three times in a row since its inception in 1987.

    When you consider United's rich history, and the plethora of world-class players to have worn the famous red shirt over the last three decades, de Gea's achievement seems all the more remarkable.

    Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo had all previously won the ballot in back-to-back years, but the former Atlético Madrid goalkeeper has now gone one better.

    "It's difficult to say something, to win three years in a row is amazing, I'm really happy." De Gea said when accepting the award.

    "It's an honour and I want to say thank you to everyone. I think we have some of the best fans in the world - thank you to everyone."

    De Gea is also the only goalkeeper to have won the award, which perhaps t

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  3. Leicester City's dynamic attacker Jeffrey Schlupp

    7th May 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    When Jeffrey Schlupp started against Swansea last week, it was the German born flyer's first Premier League start since November 7 for Claudio Ranieri's brilliant Leicester City.

    Having began the season as Leicester's undisputed starting left-back, Jeffrey Schlupp would've been delighted with his solid start to life working under Ranieri. But following the Foxes' demoralising 5-2 loss at home to Arsenal in September, Ranieri did away with Schlupp as his left-back, instead installing Christian Fuchs, who's been magnificent ever since.

    Ranieri preferred to deploy Schlupp as his left-winger for a brief period thereafter, but unfortunately Schlupp lost his spot on the wing too, with Marc Albrighton's stellar form keeping him out.

    A frustrating hamstring injury in December then kept Leicester's Players' Player of the Season from last term out for around two months, something that was an especially disheartening setback given his

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  4. FC Barcelona: Imploding or Making a Comeback?

    6th May 2016.
    It's been a long and bizarre season at Camp Nou. What started off looking as a sure-footed march toward a second consecutive treble has ended up an inconsistent season where there's a non-zero chance that Barca won't win a single title. Yet, even with just two games left on the schedule before the end of the 2015/16 La Liga campaign, the Catalan football club remain formidable opponents and legitimate title contenders. A team that just a few weeks ago seemed to be imploding is making a show of their big comeback. They've become the underdogs in their own frontrunner story.

    A Brief Look Back

    To understand the weird array of contradictions that has defined Barcelona's 2015/16 season, we need to look back at the very start of it. Barca surged into the season as the clear frontrunners for both the Champions League and the La Liga. They'd played one of the best seasons on record in 2014/15, clinching

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  5. What Next for Gary Neville?

    5th May 2016.
    In December, Manchester United legend Gary Neville took on his first-ever head manager position at Valencia. On March 30th, his tenure with the Spanish soccer squad came to an early and abrupt conclusion.

    All told, Neville's dismissal from Valencia after a little less than four months in charge wasn't a surprise. The Bats have been in shambles for most of the season and Neville did little to put new wind behind the team's sails. At the time of his sacking, Neville's Valencia side had lost three La Liga games in a row, culminating in a 0-2 at-home defeat against Celta de Vigo.

    The Win-Draw-Loss Record

    Neville exits Valencia with the kind of unimpressive record that he will likely be trying to live down for several years to come. In total, he coached the Bats for 28 games. 10 of those ended in victory, seven in draws, and 11 in losses. Those numbers figure out to a 35.7% win percentage.

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  6. Chelsea and Arsenal to Play in Women's FA Cup Final

    4th May 2016.
    Last year, the Women's FA Cup saw a huge uptick of interest, with the championship match between Chelsea and Notts County drawing an attendance of 30,710. That crowd was the biggest in the history of the event, outstripping 2008's previously record-holding audience by more than 6,000 people. Even more impressive, the game more than doubled its audience from the 2014 final, which pitted Arsenal against Everton.

    Another Attendance Record?

    It's tough to see a scenario where the Women's FA Cup final doesn't get another major boost of attention this year. This season's championship match will pit reigning champions Chelsea against 13-time winners Arsenal-arguably the ultimate match-up in English women's football.

    The 2014/15 Women's FA Cup final drew so many people in part because it was the first time the game was played at Wembley Stadium. This year, with the championship match heading to Wembley

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  7. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to Face off in DFB Pokal Championship Match

    2nd May 2016.
    Three times in the past decade, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have met in the final of the DFB Pokal. In 2008, Dortmund fell behind 11 minutes into the match but scored in stoppage time to buy themselves another opportunity at the win. The Bavarians pulled ahead in extra time to win their 14th DFB Pokal title.

    Dortmund had their revenge four years later, crushing Bayern Munich 5-2 to win their first DFB Pokal since 1989. It was just one feather in the cap of a fabulous season for the Black and Yellows, who would also go on to beat Munich by eight points in the Bundesliga.

    The third match-up played a good deal more like the first. In 2014, Dortmund managed to hold Munich to a scoreless stalemate throughout the first 90 minutes of play. In extra time, though, the superior Bayern team outlasted Dortmund, scoring two goals to bring their DFB Pokal title haul to 17.

    A Fierce Rivalry<

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  8. Ben Arfa: The Fairy-tale Comeback

    1st May 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    There has been a breakout star in French football this season, making waves with Nice. An exciting winger capable of dribbling past several opponents in a single move, and with a wand of a left foot able to bend the ball into the top corner from almost any angle.

    This exciting new star is not some teenage sensation. He is not a newcomer to Ligue 1, imbued with the confident swagger of youth. He is 29-year-old former Newcastle United player Hatem Ben Arfa.

    Ben Arfa has been in outstanding form this season. His 17 league goals from 31 games has elevated Nice to fourth position in Ligue 1, just two points behind second-placed Lyon and genuine contenders for Champions League qualification.

    The former Olympique Lyonnais player has regularly produced individual trickery and showboating skills that have been shared around the world in the form of GIFs on twitter or YouTube highlight videos. But in addition to the eye-catching flair moves,

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