Monthly Archives: October 2017
- October 27, 2017
27th October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Heading into Olympique de Marseille's monumental Le Classique clash with PSG at the Orange Velodrome last Sunday, Luiz Gustavo was always going to be a key figure as Marseille searched for their first win over their rivals in almost six years.
While the €7 million summer signing from Wolfsburg has had some disciplinary issues so far, which has seen him receive one red card and six yellow cards in all competitions, and suffered the odd poor game, his impact has been largely positive since his arrival. Adding experience, class and a strong determination, the 30-year-old's given the side some much needed leadership, fight and quality in the centre of the park.
This was certainly the case in Rudi Garcia's men's excellent showing vs. PSG in their enthralling 2-2 draw, a game they were minutes away from
- October 25, 2017
25th October 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
After years of financial uncertainty, managerial turmoil and two successive twelfth-placed finishes in La Liga, Valencia are back.
Under the auspices of former Villarreal coach Marcelino, the sleeping giant of a club is awakening, rising to second in the Spanish top flight, behind only Barcelona, and thrilling with their unique brand of highly-organised, finely-tuned, yet free-scoring brand of attacking football.
Marcelino's strict, regimented approach is exactly what Los Che needed, after complacency had set in among the squad amid six changes of manager in less than two years. The 52-year-old from Asturias has reintroduced discipline, structure and work ethic, while a whopping 16 members of last season's squad were deemed "expendable" and shipped out.
West Ham United flop Simone Zaza has grabbed many of the headlines during Valencia's rise from the ashes, and deservedly so with eight goals to his name in nine La
- October 20, 2017
20th October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Despite playing in an unfamiliar position at the base of midfield, Max Meyer encouragingly adapted superbly to his role in Schalke's resounding 2-0 win over Hertha Berlin.
Normally deployed as an attacking midfielder, the diminutive 22-year-old produced a classy performance in his new position, as he was especially crucial in animating his team's offensive passages from deep.
Seeing as Hertha defended in their 4-4-2 formation, Meyer was crucial in ensuring his wide splitting three central defenders, Benjamin Stambouli, Naldo and Thilo Kehrer, had huge openings in the half spaces to dribble forward into midfield. With Meyer regularly being man marked by his opponent, Ondrej Duda, meaning he couldn't always viably receive possession, Meyer used this to his advantage to draw his opponent with him and away from said areas to manufacture clear space for his aforementioned defenders to exploit.
There were, however, plenty
- October 18, 2017
18th October 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
Manchester United's Europa League knockout tie against Danish side FC Midtjylland in February 2016 marked the arrival on the senior stage of then 18-year-old Marcus Rashford, as the young England striker made his professional debut in the second leg, scoring a brace and launching a career that has since seen him become established as a regular feature for club and country.
But Rashford wasn't the only youngster to make an impression when the two sides met in Europe's secondary club competition. Danish international attacker Pione Sisto scored in each leg and was a constant thorn in the Red Devils' side, contributing heavily to the Premier League team's humiliating 2-1 loss in the first encounter at the MCH Arena in Herning and then giving Louis van Gaal's men a fright at Old Trafford by handing Midtjylland a shock lead.
Though still far from a household name outside of Denmark, the Uganda-born winger's profile increased dramatically
- October 16, 2017
16th October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Having spent nearly £140 million acquiring new players in the summer, Everton went into the new season full of optimism, and even had one eye on maybe challenging for a coveted top four spot.
Recording two wins from their eight Premier League games certainly wasn't the start they'd hoped for, as the Toffees are currently sitting just three points above the relegation zone. Moreover, their horror form has disappointingly carried over into their Europa League adventure, where they currently occupy last spot in a tough group featuring Atalanta, Lyon and Apollon Limassol.
A combination of reasons as to why they've began so poorly, from Ronald Koeman's decision making, to their new signings so far struggling to adjust and the departure of star striker Romelu Lukaka, can all be seen as valid explanations behind this early
- October 13, 2017
13th October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Napoli's record breaking start to the season has seen them remarkably become the first team in Serie A history to win their first seven league fixtures while scoring at least 25 goals.
Moreover, the fact Maurizio Sarri's men have now won 12 straight league games and are unbeaten in 29 dating back to last season, serves as further testament to the wonderful work done by their managerial mastermind.
Sitting atop the division, two points ahead of Juventus, this Napoli have firmly cemented themselves as prime candidates to end the club's 28 year wait for a Serie A title, with their last crown coming in 1989 when the legendary Diego Maradona famously led them to glory.
In their latest victory, a 3-0 thumping of Cagliari, a constant theme in their sensational start to the campaign was once again on show, as their left sided dynamics
- October 11, 2017
11th October 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
It's still a long way off, with plenty of football to be played between now and then and ample opportunity for best laid plans to be scuppered by fate, but next summer is already shaping up to be the summer of Leon Goretzka.
The German midfielder is on the wanted list of pretty much every major European club, with Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Barcelona all reported to be monitoring his progress at Schalke. And with next year's World Cup in Russia creeping into view, the 22-year-old's rise to prominence on the international scene is set to see him become a key player for the reigning champions and current pre-tournament favourites.
The young central midfielder has every trait desirable in the perfect player for his position: he's physically imposing at 6ft 2ins and athletic; he's
- October 09, 2017
9th October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
There's certainly no shortage of talent in RB Leipzig's ranks.
Wherever you look in the squad, whether it's the Liverpool bound Naby Keita, Diego Demme and the creative Emil Forsberg driving the side forward from midfield, Willi Orban, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate and Marcel Halstenberg keeping things sure at the back, or Timo Werner and Yussuf Poulsen leading the attacking line.
While that's just naming a few of their stars, their dynamic attacker, Marcel Sabitzer, is definitely another one to add to the list.
Born in Graz, the Austrian comes from good pedigree, for his father was an Austrian international during his days as a professional footballer. It didn't take long for the youngster to make a name for himself, though, as he rose through the ranks rapidly in his home country.
In 2010, at the age of just 16, Sabitzer's tremendous talent ensured he made his senior debut for Admira Wacker. Thereafter, he
- October 06, 2017
6th October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
When Andriy Yarmolenko linked up with Borussia Dortmund in a €25 million deal from Dynamo Kiev in the summer, he certainly had big boots to fill.
After all, replacing the departed Ousmane Dembele, who left to join FC Barcelona for a staggering initial transfer fee of €105 million, and provided 20 assists last season and completed more dribbles than any other player in the Bundesliga (with 103), was always going to be a tough ask. But BVB's sporting director in Michael Zorc had full faith in his new acquisition, explaining: "Andriy is a player we've tracked for a long time and who stands for top level football both on club and national team level."
The player himself clearly believed he was ready for this crucial next step in his career, labelling himself as a 'ready made player' and one who firmly knows his capabilities.
- October 04, 2017
4th October 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
It was a strike worthy of winning any game, but Kevin De Bruyne's left-footed rocket from 20 yards was made all the sweeter by the fact that it secured three points for his Manchester City side away to Chelsea, in one of the 2017/18 season's early meetings of title contenders.
It was a tight encounter, as the champions attempted to adjust to life without star striker Ãlvaro Morata, who'd been forced off the field with a hamstring injury after 35 minutes. City, without their own top marksmen in the form of Sergio AgÃ¼ero, absent due to a rib injury sustained in a recent car accident, rubber-stamped their title-favourites status by claiming the spoils at Stamford Bridge.
Viewed in isolation, De Bruyne's stunning winner was a goal of the highest quality; breaking forward, the Belgian playmaker exhibited flawless technique in finishing powerfully with his weaker foot. But given the context of the opponent and where the 26-year-old now