Monthly Archives: October 2016

  1. Can Rodrigo Moreno Deliver at Valencia?

    31st October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    While there's no doubting the incredible talent Rodrigo Moreno possesses, it's been frustrating to see him continue to struggle for consistency since joining Valencia in 2014 for a reported €30 million.

    The underlying turbulence at the club, which has seen managerial changes aplenty and a plethora of dubious transfer dealings, obviously hasn't helped him, but you get the feeling it's time the 25-year-old stood up and really began to stamp his mark. In addition, the fact his rights are owned by a consortium that's spearheaded by Valencia's owner, Peter Lim, and that his agent is the infamous Jorge Mendes has brought it with an unwanted stigma too.

    For the man who was born in Brazil and moved to Spain as a teenager, it's been a fascinating journey for him so far. Upon arriving in his new homeland, he joined Celta Vigo's youth ranks, where his talent immediately began to turn heads. After four years with the Galicians, an offer f

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  2. Mikel Rico Works Tirelessly for Athletic Bilbao

    28th October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Whenever Mikel Rico steps out onto the pitch, you can guarantee the tigerish enforcer will do absolutely everything in his power to help his team.

    And in Athletic Bilbao's pulsating clash with Real Madrid, this was most definitely the case. Even though the Basque outfit unfortunately succumbed to a late Alvaro Morata strike to lose the match 2-1, Rico's relentless work rate, insatiable appetite for the contest and unheralded intelligence saw him cut an instrumental figure throughout.

    From his central midfield position, alongside Mikel San Jose, whom he's developed a terrific understanding with, the 31-year-old's determination, intensity and aggression ensured life was extremely challenging for their highly fancied opponents.

    In a match where he applied four successful tackles, two interceptions

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  3. The Young Stars at the Heart of AC Milan's Revival

    26th October 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    Since their 2010-11 Serie A title win, AC Milan have fallen out of contention both domestically and in Europe.

    One of the grandest names in world football, with a history which boasts seven European Cups, 18 scudetti and five Coppa Italias, had regressed to the level of mid-table also-rans.

    Tenth in Serie A in 2014, eighth the following season and seventh last term a far cry from the days of Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit.

    But this season, under new manager Vincenzo Montella, the Rossoneri are experiencing somewhat of a revival. The 42-year-old former Fiorentina and Sampdoria coach was brought in in the summer and given the task of awakening this sleeping giant of a club and returning it to the Champions League.

    Few envisioned Montella being able to right the ship quite as quickly and as thoroughly as he has, though.

    With a squad lacking the kind of quality on display

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  4. The Fascinating Story of Werder Bremen's Ousman Manneh

    24th October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Werder Bremen's magnificent 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen last weekend was a remarkably historic, monumental evening for one man in particular. That man, of course, was Ousman Manneh.

    Having spent a decade training within the confines of the Rush Soccer Academy in his native Gambia, Manneh decided to flee the violence and unrest in his homeland at just 17 to start a new life for himself in Germany.

    Upon arriving in his unfamiliar surroundings back in 2014, he immediately began playing football in a refugee centre in Lesum, before a successful trial at Blumenthaler SV saw him join the fifth division outfit's ranks.

    His quality became emphatically obvious with the languid forward scoring 15 goals in his 11 matches for the club based to the south of Bremen's U19s.

    Unsurprisingly, his scintillating form alerted the attention of many club scouts across the country, with the likes of St. Pauli, Hamburg, Wolfsburg and

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  5. Central Midfielder Karol Linetty - A Great Acquisition for Sampdoria

    21st October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Having spent the best part of 10 years with his boyhood club, Lech Poznan, highly talented starlet, Karol Linetty, knew it was time to test himself in one of Europe's big five leagues.

    Although the 21-year-old had attracted interest from the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Club Brugge, Sampdoria were the ones who jumped in first to sign the Polish international. Moving to a club like Samp was without doubt a logical choice for his development, for had he gone to a bigger club, he knew his playing time would've been dramatically effected.

    Poznan vice president, Piotr Rutkowski, was quick to wish Linetty all the best for the future, whilst also noting what a tremendous talent he's grown into, saying: "We are proud that our pupil has found favor in the eyes of many Western clubs. Karol is a professional in every way, well aware of this at what stage of his career is now and where he wants to be in a few years.

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  6. Atletico Madrid on the Attack in 2016

    19th October 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    Diego Simeone's Atlético Madrid are renowned for their defensive rigidity and organisation. Last season, Los Colchoneros conceded just 18 goals in the 38-game La Liga campaign on their way to a third place finish.

    This gave them the finest defensive record in the entire division, and by some margin. The next most efficient rear-guard was that of champions Barcelona, who conceded 29 times, then Real Madrid who gave up 34 goals.

    But Altéti were trailing their titles rivals when it came to putting the ball in the net. Simeone's men scored 63 goals for an average of 1.66 per game; Barca, powered by their 'MSN' attacking trident of Liones Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar, bagged 112 goals for an average of 2.95 per game, with Los Blancos finding the net 110 times for an average of 2.89 goals per game.

    Atlético don't have the budget to assemble an attacking line-up to rival the two La Liga super powers; they ar

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  7. Eric Bailly: Signing of 2016 for Manchester United

    17th October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    Many questions were raised whether Eric Bailly was ready for the impending challenge that awaited him when he joined Manchester United from Villarreal in the summer.

    While he'd proven during his time in Spain with Espanyol and the Yellow Submarines that he had all the qualities to be a top class central defender, there was still an undeniable rawness to his game. The common belief was that he might be making the step up in class too soon and that he would've been better served staying in Spain a little longer to further develop his craft.

    But, with less than 50 La Liga games under his belt, Bailly felt ready to take on the challenge and grasp his incredible opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream. "It was my dream since being a child to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world and now I'm here. I'm going to take

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  8. Lorenzo Pellegrini is Excelling at Sassuolo

    14th October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    While leaving AS Roma, the club he joined as a 10-year-old, for Sassuolo would've been a tough decision for Lorenzo Pellegrini to make, he knew it was the right decision for his career.

    Having made his professional Roma debut in 2015 when he came on as a second half substitute against Cesena, the man who'd also captained Roma's primavera side to the UEFA Youth League semi finals that term knew competition for places would be fierce at the Giallorossi ahead of the 2015/2016 season.

    So when Sassuolo came knocking, Pellegrini jumped at the chance to join the Neroverdi in a deal worth just €1.25 million. The move represented a brilliant opportunity for him to work under their exceptional manager, Eusebio Di Francesco, who's renowned for his fantastic ability to develop young talents and help them to fulfill their potential.

    Pellegrini's progress has been steady at Sassuolo, where he's showed plenty of signs of his undeniable q

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  9. Gerard Pique Driven to International Retirement - A Blow for Spain

    October 12th 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    Gerard Pique has announced that he will retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    It was a decision made in the heat of a particularly heated moment, with the latest media and fan criticism of the Barcelona defender proving to be the straw that broke the camel's back. And with the World Cup still the best part of two years away -- much like former team-mate Carles Puyol in 2010 and current colleague Lionel Messi this summer -- Pique could yet decide to reverse his decision to quit playing for his country.

    But if he does not -- if Pique's announcement proves to be more promise than threat -- it will be Spain's great loss.

    In one of the most remarkable acts of self-sabotage in football, large sections of the Spanish media and fans have pushed their best defender to the point where he is no longer willing to represent La Roja.

    As a proud Catalan, and one who has made no attempt to

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  10. Celta Vigo Demonstrate How to Beat Barcelona

    10th October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
    "When Barcelona don't have the ball, they're not Barcelona. And every robbery was an automatic attack," explained a delightful Eduardo Berizzo after his Celta Vigo side had just defeated Barcelona 4-3.

    In what was one of the matches of the season, Berizzo's men adhered to his tactics of pressing Barcelona high up the pitch, and the man marking scheme attached it, beautifully, which allowed them to persistently dispossess and unsettle the Catalan giants. By applying such relentless pressure to Barca whenever they looked to pass out from the back, Celta ensured Luis Enrique's men found it hugely challenging to implement their usually effective passing game.

    Berizzo's strategy was executed to absolute perfection by his troops, as they successfully managed to cut the supply line to pretty much all of Barca's passing options in

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