1. Champions League 2019/20 –Journey to the Group Stages

    The UEFA Champions League is one of the most watched soccer tournaments across Europe as we see the top teams from each league compete to become the ultimate squad. Taking place during the summer of 2019 we saw the qualifying rounds of the 2019/20 season begin and after a short break the competition commenced with the group stages starting on the 17th September and due to end in December ready for the knockout phases to start in early 2020. As the group stages are well underway, we thought we would take a brief look at match day and the qualifiers of this season’s Champions League tournament. So, if you are interested in finding out more about the fixtures then keep on reading.

    Champions League Qualifiers

    The Champions League Qualifiers for 2019/20 started on the 25th June and ended on the 28th August 2019. Within these stages of the football tournament the final qualifying teams were determined for the competition.

    In the first Preliminary round, the champions of the Gibraltar, Andorra, San Marino and Kosovo associations played against one another and the winner was Feronikeli from Kosovo who beat the Lincoln Red Imps 1-0 in the first round and FC Santa Coloma 2-1 in the final.

    After the first few matches of the preliminary round, we saw Feronikeli take on 31 champions from a wide range of associations. Unfortunately, Feronikeli lost out to The New Saints who also joined Nomme Kaljum, Red Star Belgrade, AIK, CFR Cluj, Ferencvaros, Qarabag, Sutjeska Niksic, Celtic, Saburtalo Tbilisi, Valletta, Rosenborg, Maribor, Dundalk, HJK and BATE Borisov with the advancement to the second round.

    The second qualifying round is split into two with two paths available for the Champions League and the Europa League. Via the Champions League path, we saw the 16 winners from the first qualifying round face the 4 champions from Croatia, Denmark, Israel and Cyprus. But for the Europa League path we saw the 4 runners u

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  2. How Diego Maradona Shaped the Football Scene

    Every soccer player young and old needs an inspirational figure head to motivate them towards greatness. And Diego Maradona is exactly that, his excellent technical skill on the pitch, combined with his expertise with managing teams, he most certainly is an inspiration to all soccer enthusiasts. So whether you are a devoted player or are thinking of branching into a more managerial role in the football world, Maradona is a great example of how the transition can be made effortlessly. Therefore within this article we are going to explore the history of Maradona and how his football career evolved over the years. So continue reading if you want to find out more about this highly significant player.

    Where it all began for Maradona

    Diego Armando Maradona was born on the 30th October 1960 and was raised in a shanty town just outside of Buenos Aires called Villa Fiorito. He was the first boy born in his family and has three older sisters and two younger brothers. And although their family was on a very low budget, Diego discovered his love for soccer and practised his skills regularly.

    When he was only eight years old he was discovered by a talent scout when he was playing football at Estrella Roja which was a local club in his home town. Shortly after this he joined Los Cebollitas which was a junior soccer team for the Argentinos Juniors. And when he was 12 years old he used to amuse fans at matches by showcasing his soccer skills during half time of first division fixtures.

    Maradona’s Technique on the Pitch

    His skilful combination of dribbling, vision, close ball control, passing and creativity lead to him becoming one of the most adored players in the world. With his strong legs and short stature, Maradona’s centre of gravity was much lower than other player which allowed him to withstand physical pressure spectacularly while he was in possession of the ball. This therefore made him a fantastic strategist as he was able to hol

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  3. Round-up of the Champions League Group Stages

    Along with the ongoing tournaments such as the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga, Primeria, the Champions League is also in progress. This league incorporates a range of clubs from all of the leagues across Europe and is a widely celebrated by fans worldwide as they cheer on their favourite soccer team once more. Currently in the group stages, the Champions League is where clubs across the globe compete on the soccer field to eventually lift the trophy at the end of the games – thus gaining Champions status.

    Within this blog post we will take a look at how the tournament is panning out at the moment and what we can expect from the clubs in the coming weeks. From looking at how the matches have been scheduled and the groups picked, to the highest scoring player and team, you will find out all about this here.

    How are the Teams Grouped?

    After the initial play-offs had taken place prior to the scheduled group matches, the teams were whittled down to the 32 names below. These were then drawn into their specific groups on the 30th August 2018. Their first set of matches were scheduled for the 18th and 19th September whereby each team within the group played against one another for a home and away match. Below you can see a breakdown of the clubs included in this season’s Champions League Tournament.

    Champions League Trophy

    Group A

    • Atletico Madrid
    • Borussia Dortmund
    • AS Monaco
    • Club Brugge

    Group B

    • Barcelona
    • Tottenham Hotspur
    • PSV Eindhoven
    • Inter Milan

    Group C

    • Paris Saint Germain
    • Napoli
    • Liverpool
    • Red Sta
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  4. The Scudetto race is back on after Juventus dropped crucial points

    While other leagues around Europe have been concluded as early as December of last year, one remains strong with two teams going toe-to-toe for the title. The country is Italy and the league is Serie A, with Juventus chasing their seventh consecutive Scudetto, while Napoli are in search of their first league title since 1990.

    What has been truly magical is how these two teams have not eased the pressure on one another at any point throughout the season so far. Even when Juventus took the lead for the first time during the campaign after Napoli’s collapse to Roma, the Neapolitan club kept their faith and just made sure they picked up points in their following two games.

    In what has been the strangest result of the entire season, Max Allegri’s men drew 0-0 to SPAL Ferrara away from home - a team that is battling relegation and has conceded the joint-third most amount of goals in the league.

    The Bianconeri, as expected, had 65% possession during the 90 minutes, but could only conjure up three shots on-target. A disappointing day at the office for some of Juventus’ forwards, who failed to impose themselves on the game and cost their team two vital points in the hunt for the Scudetto.

    Two points dropped is, on the surface level, not the end of the world, but it now means that Napoli are only within a win to leapfrog them once more in the league. Why Maurizio Sarri’s players will be feeling more confident is that they have to play their rivals before the end of the season - albeit, at the Allianz Stadium.

    Juventus will always be nailed-on favourites for the Italian title, purely because they have the knowhow, experience and quality to deliver time and time again, as they have shown in the past six years. But while Juventus have been winning their trophies, Napoli’s uprising has been taking place, and this is the first year in which they have truly competed with the Italian giants, attempting to dethrone them for the first tim

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  5. Serie A’s title race is the best thing in European football right now

    In a league that has dwindled over the past decade, it has been quite the surprise that the most exciting domestic competition this season has been Serie A. 
    Italy have had a long standing tradition of competitive football throughout the 90s and 00s, but the league has been dominated by Juventus for the past six years which has reduced that somewhat. 

    Yet, this season, Serie A remains the only competition in Europe’s top five leagues to still be embroiled in a fascinating title race.

    The Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga and Ligue 1 all have their Champions-elect, but it is Serie A who poses two candidates: Napoli and Juventus. Of course, everyone is accustomed to seeing the Old Lady lift the Scudetto come May, but it is Maurizio Sarri’s men who have posed a credible threat to their throne.

    Napoli have played some of the best football in Europe this season, possibly only second to Manchester City’s excellence. The Ciucciarelli play a pulsating brand of football that produces wave after wave of attacks through their very own starlet triumvirate.

    Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and José Callejon have been three of the best players in Europe this season and have a combined 36 goals - a phenomenal amount given Napoli have only played 33 official matches. 

    What has been so impressive is that these three are their own masters of output. They are not held by strict team instructions; instead, they are incredibly fluid across the forward line and are therefore incredibly difficult to pick up and mark.

    It must be one of the hardest jobs in football as a defender trying to contain Napoli’s forward line, given they are never in one position attacking in an orthodox sense. They are all
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  6. Serie A is at long last rejuvenated - we have a proper title race on our hands now

    10th November 2017.
    Over the course of the last six years, Serie A's title race has been something of a formality. Juventus, under Antonio Conte and now Massimiliano Allegri, have cruised to the Scudetto year after year without any serious competition. However, in the famous words of Bob Dylan, for the times, they are a-changin'.

    Competition in 2017/18 Serie A

    We are finally immersed in the wonderful spectacle that is a competitive Italian league. After 12 games - AS Roma and Lazio have only played 11 - Napoli sit at the summit, one point ahead of reigning champions Juventus and two in front of Luciano Spalletti's Inter.

    Just behind the top three is Lazio, 28, and Roma, 27, with a game-in-hand to catch up the three teams ahead of them on 30, 31 and 32 points.

    Milan were supposed to be in the mix, but problems with Vincenzo Montella's selection policy and the overhaul of the squad has prohibited them kicking on and competing for a Champions League place.

    There is now a sense of a rejuvenation in Serie A, something we have not seen in many, many years. It is a sheer delight to watch Italian football each week because of the unpredictability that is going to occur.

    European Football at its Best

    For this is the same reason why the Premier League is, arguably, the most enjoyed league in the world.

    Like the English Premier League, Serie A is not the best competition in terms of quality. That has to be Spain's La Liga. But not every spectator tunes in to be utterly wowed by the world-class dominance of Juventus - hence why Italian football went out of fashion through the Bianconeri's six-year dominance.

    However, what the average fan does enjoy, is competitiveness. And finally Serie A has a show every match day that promises great, attacking football with a great sense of ambition

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  7. Can Napoli Secure the Serie A Title in 2017/18?

    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 proved crucial in their dismantling of the Rossoblu.

    By persistently creating customary overloads on the left, accompanied by superbly coordinated movements, the Partenopei were able to manufacture ideal conditions to progress in this area of the pitch.

    Left back, Faouzi Ghoulam, left winger, Lorenzo Insigne, and left sided central midfield, Marek Hamsik, were the main instigators in their success in this area. But the especially important shifting movements of centre forward in Dries Mertens and holding midfielder, Jorginho, were also crucial.

    Forming excellent triangles and diamonds, they did a sterling job of fostering strong connections to ensure they could pass through the Cagliari wide structure. Showing ideal timing in their movements and a smart capacity to manipulate their opposition, Napoli could subsequently enjoy 4v2 or 4v3 numerical superiority to swiftly move into the final third.

    Helped massively by diagonal third man runs into depth, that

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  8. Seven Youngsters Set For Breakout Seasons Across Europe

    23rd August 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
    With the 2017/18 season now under way in the major European leagues, all eyes are focussed on the stars of the previous campaign, many of whom have switched clubs for huge fees, to see whether they can maintain the form shown last term.

    Kylian Mbappe was undoubtedly the youngster who made the biggest impact in 2016/17, breaking into the Monaco first team to star domestically and in the Champions League, helping the Monegasque side earn a first Ligue 1 title since 2000, when the prodigious forward was only 18 months old.

    But the new season also presents a chance for new stars to emerge, young hopefuls primed to take the next step in their development and establish themselves as genuine stars of the game.

    Here are seven young players from across Europe set for breakout campaigns this season.

    Adam Ounas Napoli

    Before his move to Napoli this summer in a deal which could reach up to €12million depending on conditional add-ons, Ounas was already a semi-regular feature at senior, top-division level with Bordeaux in Ligue 1.

    The 20-year-old had shown glimpses of his immense promise with the French side, making 27 starts over the last two seasons. Operating predominantly on the wing, his close control, dribbling and intelligent use of the ball marked him out as one of Ligue 1's brightest prospects.

    But the move to Italy looks like being a catalyst in inspiring a developmental leap within the France under-20 international. Out of his comfort zone and embracing the challenge of breaking into Maurizio Sarri's attack-minded, talent-rich line-up, Ounas if his pre-season form is anything to go by  is ready to shine in Serie A.

    Nathaniel Chalobah Watford

    In just two games for Watford, Chalobah has already accumulated more Pr

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  9. Napoli Resist the Urge to Splurge During the 2017 Summer Transfer Period

    9th August 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
    It's been a quiet summer for Napoli. While those around them in the Serie A landscape have undergone major upheavals, the Partenopei have largely stood still, and that could prove to be their best move.

    AC Milan, following the completion of a takeover by new Chinese owners, have spent an eye-watering amount of money to tool up coach Vincenzo Montella ahead of the new season, with the express aim being a return to something approaching their former glories as soon as possible.

    Champions Juventus have lost star defender Leonardo Bonucci to Milan, no less while spending big to boost Massimiliano Allegri's attacking options with the additions of Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa, with Mattia De Sciglio arriving from the Rossoneri to fill the Dani Alves-shaped void at J Stadium.

    Roma, last season's runners-up in the race for the Scudetto, have been active in the transfer market too, as new sporting director, Monchi, looks to impress his unique, value-sensing stamp on the squad. Out have gone Mohamed Salah and Antonio Rüdiger, moving to the Premier League with Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, and midfielder Leandro Paredes has signed for Zenit Saint Petersburg. In their stead come Rick Karsdorp, Héctor Moreno, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Cenzig Ünder and Maxime Gonalons among others.

    Inter Milan, Sampdoria and Lazio have done some reshuffling of their own, but Napoli, content with their lot, have made just one major addition. Adam Ounas, signed from Bordeaux for around €10million and already greatly impressing in his new surroundings, looks to be an astute purchase for the San Paolo club and one which won't upset the natural balance that coach Maurizio Sarri has dedicated the last two years to cultivating.

    Ounas is a 20-year-old French winger who has bags of potential ­ a sound investment in the future for

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  10. Napoli Sign Adam Ounas - One of the most astute acquisitions of 2017

    24th July 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
    While the likes of AC Milan, Juventus, AS Roma and Inter Milan have all been busy flexing their financial muscles in the transfer market, Napoli has quietly gone under the radar with their dealings this summer.

    It must be said that although they have been spending, they've still impressively gone about their work in a purposeful, financial savvy fashion, signing players who'll be extremely suitable for Maurizio Sarri's entertaining philosophy.

    Bringing in accomplished left-back, Mario Rui, on an initial loan from Roma, adds essential depth to the squad, and should prove handy to relieve Faouzi Ghoulam should he need a rest over the course of the campaign. Their other acquisition so far is indeed a lot more exciting, however, for Adam Ounas is a hugely promising talent with awesome potential.

    Paying a very reasonable fee, believed to be in the region of €10 million, for a player who's so gifted and that has such an immense scope for improvement represents terrific value for the Partenopei too.

    Upon speaking on his move, the ambitious Ounas made a point of thanking Bordeaux for everything they did for him, while voicing his enthusiasm about the next step in his footballing journey. "I leave for a new challenge with joy and determination, but I'm leaving a big club which gave me everything and I want to thank those people who put their faith in me from the start. A huge thank you to all the club personnel, the staff, my teammates as well as the Bordeaux supporters. Good luck to the club going forward and a million thanks," he announced.

    In Ounas, Napoli have secured a man with an absolute wand of a left foot, and who possesses sublime technical qualities, w

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