Monthly Archives: April 2017

  1. Omar El Kaddouri: Proving to be a great investment for Empoli

    28th April 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    Feeling unfairly treated and hardly afforded an opportunity to stake his claim at Napoli, Omar El Kaddouri knew he needed to leave Maurizio Sarri's side in the January transfer window in order to receive some meaningful minutes.

    Having joined the Partenopei from Brescia back in 2012, the Belgian born attacking midfielder never really made an impact for Napoli, largely due a lack of opportunities related to the fierce competition for places. Moreover, seeing as Sarri's largely favoured a 4-3-3 formation, this didn't help him either, for that shape doesn't allow for his preferred number 10 position to be utilised.

    Although it was encouraging to see him impress during a two-year loan spell with Torino from 2013-2015, cementing a place at his foster club proved unattainable.

    So after appearing to agree a transfer to Turkish outfit Trabzonspor, he then did a stunning u-turn and instead opted to remain in

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  2. Ernesto Valverde coaching Bilbao to success.

    Monday 24th April. By Edward Stratmann.
    Following Athletic Bilbao's barnstorming 5-1 win over Las Palmas, Ernesto Valverde couldn't have been more pleased with his team, who played with remarkable intensity and purpose throughout.

    In what was the perfect way to celebrate his 300th match in charge of Athletic, he noted how "the key has been our aggression in the robbery" which was certainly apt, for his side put on a masterclass in how to press a wonderfully talented Las Palmas outfit. Quique Setien's men were hardly given a moment's peace, as they were placed under duress every time they attempted to implement their usually incisive passing game.

    The fact Athletic were successfully able to nullify some of the most press resistant players in La Liga such as Jonathan Viera, Roque Mesa, Vicente Gomez and Tana served as a testament to Valverde's structure. And how well his men adhered to it.


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  3. Atalanta's Rafael Toloi: One of Serie A's Best Defenders

    Friday 21st April. By Edward Stratmann. 
    Atalanta's Rafael Toloi continued his wonderful season by putting in a tremendous showing vs one of his former employers, AS Roma, on the weekend.

    The Brazilian, who's been a mainstay of Gian Piero Gasperini's brilliantly managed outfit, illustrated emphatically why he's been one of Serie A's finest defenders this season, while also showing his former club what a quality player he's now become.

    Throughout the 1-1 draw, La Dea's right sided central defender, undertook his role in an aggressive, whole hearted, yet highly thoughtful manner, as his positioning and approach served as a fascinating component of Gasperini's game plan.

    The most eye-catching aspect of his performance was the way he was given clear licence to step out and apply pressure to Diego Perotti, Roma's left winger, when he was unmarked in the left half space. With Roma customarily funneling many of their attacks down their left hand side, 41%

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  4. Theo Hernández the Atletico star set to divide Madrid

    Wednesday 19th April. By Ryan Baldi. 
    An unwritten "non-aggression pact" between Real Madrid and cross-capital rivals Atletico Madrid means that the two sides do not pursue each other's players for the sake of neighbourly relations. But according to widespread reports in the Spanish media, the European champions are preparing to break the agreement to sign 19-year-old left-back Theo Hernandez from Los Colchoneros this summer.

    It's not completely unknown for players to swap one side of Madrid for the other, with Real legends Hugo Sanchez and Raaj both having been poached from Atletico, while Argentinian winger Santiago Solari made the same switch in 2000, but such examples are relatively few and far between.

    Indeed, several of Atletico's best and brightest stars have reportedly been on the radar of their all-white

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  5. Right-back Oscar De Marcos enjoys season despite injury setbacks

    Tuesday 18th April. By Edward Stratmann.
    Speaking ahead of a massive week for Athletic Bilbao, which saw them play four games in the space of less than two weeks against Osasuna, Espanyol, Villarreal and Las Palmas, Oscar De Marcos gave an intriguing insight into what an frustrating, interrupted season he's endured. However, Athletic Bilbao's right-back, Oscar De Marcos - enjoying a solid season despite injury setbacks.

    "It has been strange for me but I have been quite good, I have had some injury setbacks but I have recovered quickly. This dressing room helps you recover and now I do not even remember that I have been injured," he recalled.

    The Lions' utility, who's capable of fulfilling multiple roles in midfield and defence but has now settled into the right-back slot, has been forced to miss large chunks of action through irritating ankle and adductor injuries. But his manager's unyielding faith in him has been a great source of motivation and positivity

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  6. Joaquin Correa is a star in the making at Sevilla

    Thursday 13th April. By Edward Stratmann.
    In his post-match comments following Sevilla's much needed 4-2 win over Deportivo La Coruna, Los Nervionenses manager, Jorge Sampaoli, was absolutely delighted with his team's splendid attacking showing that propelled them to their first win in six league matches.

    "We have had the feeling of being a team with vertigo as we attack all the time and this is a lot of fun for the future," he gleamed.

    "Speed in attack is our strategy, I wish we could repeat today's performance every single week but we now have to transform our 61 points into more if we are to qualify for the Champions League."

    One man who was unquestionably integral in injecting speed and dynamism into Sevilla's offensive forays was their Argentinian sensation, Joaquin Correa. Having signed from Sampdoria in the summer for €10 million, it wasn't easy in the beginning for the wildly gifted attacker to force his way into the team, but his patience and persistence h

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  7. Anthony Modeste: from Premier League reject to Bundesliga star

    Wednesday 12th April. By Ryan Baldi
    To Premier League fans with little interest in German or French football, Anthony Modeste is a name that is unlikely to conjure too many vivid memories. If the Cannes-born striker left any lasting impressions at all after his short-lived loan spell with Blackburn Rovers during the 2011-12 season, they will be predominantly negative.

    Modeste played just nine games for the Ewood Park club, failing to find the net at all during his six months on loan from Bordeaux. The campaign ended in relegation for Rovers while the Frenchman returned to his homeland, sealing another loan switch, this time to Bastia.

    So those (un)fortunate enough to have witnessed his unproductive stay in Lancashire would surely be surprised to learn that, now with Bundesliga side Köln, Modeste has developed into one of the hottest marksmen in Europe.

    With an incredible return of 24 goals from 30 games in all completions 22 of those com

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  8. Mesut Ozil Play's a Vital Role at Arsenal

    10th April 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    Arsenal's much needed win over West Ham was quite a night to remember for the mercurial Mesut Ozil. In what was his 150th appearance for the Gunners, he fittingly marked the occasion by bagging a goal and an assist. More than that, though, his aforementioned contributions also saw him equal his highest ever personal scoring tally in a single season (with 10) and move into sixth place on Arsenal's all-time list for EPL assists, joining Robin van Persie on 39.

    Ozil's Performance May Determine the Clubs 2016/17 EPL Position

    Ozil's performance extended far further than just his scoreboard impact, however, for the German international accompanied this milestone occasion with a performance to match.

    From his nominal central attacking midfield role, the man who signed for a whopping £42.5 million from Real

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  9. Stephan El Shaarawy Shows His Skill, Despite AS Roma's Coppa Italia Semi-Final Loss

    Friday 7th April. By Edward Stratmann.
    Even though AS Roma prevailed 3-2 over Lazio in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal, it still wasn't enough to overturn the two goal deficit they faced from the first leg, as they disappointingly succumbed 3-4 on aggregate.

    On a night that marked the return of the Curva Sud, another positive could be drawn from the impressive performance of Stephan El Shaarawy. Starting his 22nd match of the season, the skillful attacker gave the fans plenty to get excited about from his left wing post.

    As one of only two Italians to begin the match, the other being Lazio forward Ciro Immobile, El Shaarawy's pace, dribbling prowess and smart movement ensured his direct opponent, Dusan Basta, had a challenging time dealing with him.

    Whenever the opportunity to come infield presented itself, El Shaarawy always took it up, allowing him to receive possession in more dangerous central areas, plus create room on the flank for Emerson

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  10. Torino's Andrea Belotti is Attracting Interest from Europe's Elite Clubs

    Wednesday 5th April. By Ryan Baldi.
    With an incredible tally of 23 goals from 27 Serie A games this season, it's no wonder that Torino's Andrea Belotti is being linked with big-money moves to a host of European clubs.

    The 23-year-old was reportedly subject of a £56 million bid from Arsenal during the mid-season transfer window. Il Toro's sporting director Gianluca Petrachi told Sky Italia : "We received and refused a €65m (£56m) offer from Arsenal for Andrea Belotti, but it does not reflect the value of the player.

    "Anyway, he is going nowhere for now. We want to enjoy him, then we'll see what happens.

    "We intend to keep Belotti and president Urbano Cairo signed this important buyout clause. I think he's worth more than they have offered."

    The buyout clause Petrachi referenced stands at a whopping €100 million (£86 million) thanks to a new contract the player penned earlier in the campaign. The exit clause applies only to non-Italian teams, with

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