Monthly Archives: June 2017

  1. Ruben Neves - One of the Most Coveted Youngsters in European Football

    30th June 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    After a challenging season under Nuno Espirito Santo at FC Porto, Ruben Neves' performances for Portugal at the U21 European Champions offered a timely reminder why he's one of the most coveted youngsters in European football.

    Having enjoyed a remarkable breakout campaign in 2015/2016 at the Dragons under the watchful eye of Julen Lopetegui, who's now the Spanish national team manager, where he became the club's youngest ever goalscorer and the youngest Portuguese player to play in the Champions League, things fell away drastically in 2016/2017.

    Nuno clearly wasn't won over by the gifted 20-year-old like Lopetegui was, as the fiery manager only granted him six Liga Nos starts, in a term where he played just 909 minutes in all competitions. Indeed, a stark contrast to the previous campaign, where he amassed a whopping 2243 minutes of action.

    The U21 Euros offered an ideal distraction from his frustrations at club level,

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  2. 5 Possible Destinations For Alexis Sánchez

    28th June 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
    With just one year remaining on his contract and high on the wish list of several of Europe's biggest clubs, Alexis Sánchez is unlikely to still be an Arsenal player by the start of the 2017-18 season.

    The former Barcelona forward was the Gunners' outstanding performer last season, netting 24 Premier League goals and returning a career high total of 30 in 51 all-competitions games, including a crucial strike in the North London side's FA Cup final victory over champions Chelsea.

    Sánchez was the shining light in an otherwise disappointing season for Arsenal which saw them fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in two decades. Currently on international duty with Chile at the Confederations Cup in Russia, the 28-year-old attacker is set to resolve his future upon his return, with all signs pointing towards an exit from the Emirates Stadium.

    Arsenal would love to hold onto their sta
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  3. Can Luciano Spalletti Restore Success at Inter Milan?

    26th June 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    Prior to the 2016/2017 season, Inter Milan were full of optimism for what loomed as a successful campaign ahead.

    Having spent over €150 million acquiring some genuinely exceptional players in the summer, including Antonio Candreva, Joao Mario, Miranda, Ever Banega, Marcelo Brozovic and Gabriel Barbosa, expectations were indeed predictably high. But the Nerazzurri unfortunately fell well short, enduring a largely forgettable season that was littered with disappointment.

    The writing was on the wall early as the club sacked manager Roberto Mancini two weeks before the season began and entrusted former Ajax manager, Frank de Boer, with the arduous task of recovering the situation. Even though the Dutchman masterminded a dogged win over Juventus, he was sacked just 85 days into his tenure. He just couldn't get the team moving in the same direction and the lows definitely outweighed the highs. Losing seven of his 14 matches in charge, i

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  4. Standoff Between Conte and Chelsea Hierarchy Over Transfer Targets

    23nd June 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    After an absolutely brilliant title winning season with Chelsea, Antonio Conte's shown his desperation to delve into the transfer market to improve his squad ahead of what looms as a hectic 2017/2018 campaign.

    With the added pressure and challenges of the Champions League, the Italian, who's on the verge of signing a contract extension worth £9.5 million a year that will make him the seventh highest paid manager in the world, is reportedly keen to get his deals over the line as soon as possible. Indeed, this is entirely understandable, for he wants all his new additions present for preseason so they can learn his tactically advanced methodology.

    Having acquired no new players yet, Conte's apparently voiced his dissatisfaction towards the Chelsea hierarchy in regards to their lack of progress on this front. The fact he

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  5. What Next for Renato Sanches, after a difficult first season at FC Bayern?

    21st June 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
    Less than a year ago, Renato Sanches appeared to have the world at his feet. The Portuguese teenager had just turned down Manchester United to sign for German champions Bayern Munich from Benfica in a headline-grabbing €35 million deal, potentially rising to as much as €60 million with conditional add-ons.

    He also starred at last summer's European Championships in France, helping Portugal overcome the odds and upset the home nation, claiming their first ever major international honour.

    Now, though, the 19-year-old midfielder, having started only six Bundesliga games during his first campaign at the Allianz Arena, faces the very real possibility of having to play his football elsewhere next season.

    Bayern's public stance is that they would be reluctant to allow Sanches to leave the club as things stand. But their recent €35 million purchase of energetic French midfielder Corentin Tolisso, coupled with manager Carlo Ancelotti's insis

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  6. The Management Style of Julen Lopetegui Suits the Spain Squad Perfectly

    19th June 2017. By Edward Stratmann
    When he took over as Spanish national team manager, Julen Lopetegui made a point of looking to the future and doing things his way, in his style, for he knew comparing himself to the magnificent success Spain had enjoyed under Luis Aragones and Vicente del Bosque in recent years wouldn't be a wise move.

    "In my opinion, the generation that has just passed is without doubt the most brilliant not just in the history of Spanish football, but one of the best in the history of world football, so comparing anything to that is not fair and would be a mistake," he insists.

    "But that doesn't mean we haven't got good footballers: we have got good footballers, with ambition, personality, desire. Players who are making big steps, but to follow their path, not someone else's."

    The former coach of numerous Spanish youth teams, who

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  7. Can Mexico win the 2017 Confederations Cup?

    16th June 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    While drawing with the United States wasn't necessarily a bad result, one that importantly means they've still never lost at home inside the Azteca to the U.S, Mexico will still feel a sense that they should've taken all three points.

    After all, they largely dominated the game on their way to amassing 74% of the possession and looked the more composed side. But Bruce Arena's visiting side deserve credit for the way they diligently stuck to their task, defending extremely competently in their usually deep block.

    Speaking in his post match comments, Mexico's tactically astute manager, Juan Carlos Osorio, had some interesting comments to make about the two teams and their massively different approaches.

    "I think their intention from the start was to defend, with a line of five and three midfielders to stop our attacks," asserted Osorio. "They played for an error or the possibility of a transition, which is what happened [for

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  8. The signings Juventus need to end their Champions League drought

    14th June 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
    With a sixth successive Serie A title and a third Coppa Italia in a row already secured, the stage was set for Juventus to end their 21-year wait for a Champions League crown and secure a triumphant treble against Real Madrid in Cardiff earlier this month.

    Zinédine Zidane's side went into the game as reigning European champions and had just secured a first La Liga title in five years, but Juventus, under the guidance of master tactician Massimiliano Allegri and having seen off free-scoring Ligue 1 leaders Monaco in the semi-final, looked ready to unseat Los Blancos at the summit of the continental game.

    It wasn't to be, though. A tight first half, in which Mario Mandžuki? scored one of the great Champions League final goals with an acrobatic overhead strike, was followed by a masterclass in efficiency and att

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  9. Craig Shakespeare is the Right Man to Take Leicester City Forward

    12th June 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    Craig Shakespeare's tremendous job steadying the ship following the unfortunate sacking of Claudio Ranieri as caretaker manager back in February has clearly been appreciated by the Leicester City hierarchy, who offered him a three year deal to take over the reigns on a permanent basis.

    Shakespeare duly accepted the offer presented to him, which served as a deserved reward for his fine efforts over the closing third of the season. Winning eight of his 16 matches in charge, Shakespeare, who served as Nigel Pearson's and Ranieri's assistant, proved he was well and truly up to the task.

    Getting off to a sensational, record breaking start, which saw him become the first British manager to win their first five EPL matches, plus overcome an exceptional Sevilla side to reach the Champions League quarter finals, was the perfect start for the Englishman.

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  10. Sevilla's Loss of Jorge Sampaoli is Certainly Argentina's Gain

    9th June 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    Following an overwhelmingly impressive first season in La Liga with Sevilla, it was disappointing to see their fiery manager, Jorge Sampaoli, leave to take over as Argentina's head coach.

    Having guided the Andalusian outfit to their second highest points total in La Liga history and an exemplary fourth placed league finish, he just couldn't resist the lure of managing Argentina - the country of his birth.

    "There's a clear intention from my country to have me as coach and, since I was young, it's something that has appealed to me," he insisted.

    He then went onto state that stepping into the position was "the fulfilling of a dream that I craved for a long time and that I've always admired this role."

    Had he stayed with Sevilla, it's hard not to think they could've accomplished great things together,

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