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Is The Premier League Getting the Better of Guardiola? 1

Posted on December 16, 2016 by James Thomas
Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola is understandably viewed as a footballing purist. Anyone fortunate enough to witness his Barcelona side in full flow, with miniature maestros Xavi and Iniesta dizzying the opposition, softening them up for the slaloming brilliance of Messi, glimpsed a level of football closer to perfection than anything seen before or since.

Guadiola has always maintained, however, that he is against the type of football known as tiki-taka – passing for the sake of passing. The objective for Guardiola has always been to win and he’s been phenomenally successful. He won the first six trophies available to him at Barcelona – an unprecedented sextuple of La Liga, Copa Del Ray, Champions League, European Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup and the Club World Cup – and didn’t do too badly at Bayern Munich either, winning three straight championships by comfortable margins.

Manchester City fans were understandably thrilled at Guardiola’s appointment in the summer. A manager who wins more than anyone else with greater style than anyone else – what’s not to like?

Others, however, predicted a rocky road for Guardiola in England. The phrase “can they do it on a cold Wednesday night in Stoke” was used, albeit often with irony, to question how Messi, Xavi and other tiki-taka purists would cope in the hurly burly of the Premiership. For many, England posed the ultimate test to Guardiola’s style of play: could artistic football survive a close encounter with Ryan Shawcross and managers in the mould of Steve Bruce, who famously said “some would say it wasn’t even a red card” about the tackle from Martin Taylor that shattered Eduardo’s leg?

Those who stick their neck out as football pundits are used to having humble pie thrust towards them and Guadiola’s stellar start with Man City had many eating their words. City won their first ten games in all competitions under Guardiola, including a highly impressive win away at Old Trafford, and the players looked to be adapting to his unique style of play well.

The first blip in City’s season, a 3-3 draw at Celtic, appeared little to worry about, but was followed by a 2-0 defeat away to Spurs. Mauricio Pochettino’s men brought the full force and physicality of the Premier League to bear on Guardiola’s team that day and won comfortably.

City’s run since then hasn’t quite been disastrous but four wins in 15 games is not something Guadiola is used to. A few of the naysayers have raised their heads above the parapet again and wondered whether the physicality of the Premier League is belatedly getting the better of the Spaniard, but the biggest concerns have been raised by Guardiola himself. Read the rest of this entry →

FIFA Fanatic? 4 Iconic Real-World Stadiums You Need to See Before You Die 2

Posted on June 21, 2016 by Emma Sturgis

FIFA1Football (soccer) brings out the passion in fans like no other sport. That’s why it’s called “The Beautiful Game”. However, very few stadiums around the world can match the atmosphere and history these iconic stadiums create. If you consider yourself a football fanatic, it’s REQUIRED that you visit these stadiums before you head to the great stadium in the sky.

Anfield – Liverpool

There’s no other club in the Premier League that can match the passion Liverpool fans have for their club. In recent years, the atmosphere created at the stadium has diminished sharply, but come derby day there’s nothing more chilling to the other side and fans than 40,000+ spectators singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. If the Signal Iduna Park can be renowned for its Yellow Wall, let Anfield be remembered for its European nights and Bill Shankly days.

FIFA2Estadio Maracana – Flamengo

On July 16, 1950, over 170,000 fans packed into the Mecca of Football. It was Brazil vs Uruguay for the World Cup trophy. The Brazilians were going into the match as heavy favorites and all they needed to do was not lose to win their first World Cup ever and do it on home soil.

90 minutes later, what was once a loud and boisterous crowd was silenced as Uruguay ran home with the trophy, 2-1 winners on the day in a game etched into the minds of Brazilians to this day as a national tragedy, forever known as the “Maracanazo”.

Read the rest of this entry →

Spain Looking to Create History in Euro 2016 6

Posted on June 08, 2016 by John Harris
In 2012 Spain became the first team to repeat as Euro Champions. They will be looking for three in a row in 2016.

In 2012 Spain became the first team to repeat as Euro Champions. They will be looking for three in a row in 2016.

Europe’s top football (soccer) players are heading to France for the 15th edition of the UEFA European Championships. Held every four years since 1960, the 51 game tournament provides European bragging rights for the next four years making every game competitive and hard fought.

The month-long tournament will be played at 10 venues across the country. Play begins on June 10th and the championship game will be played at the 81,000 seat Saint-Denis Stadium near Paris on July 10th.

When the tournament began in 1960, there were eight spots in the field. It was expanded to 16 in 1996 and the 2016 tournament sees another expansion to 24 teams.

In 2012, Spain became the first team to win back-to-back titles and if they can make it three in a row they would pass Germany for the most titles in tournament history with four. As the top team in Group D, Spain will compete with the Czech Republic, Croatia and Turkey for two guaranteed spots in the knockout round. Spain is currently ranked 5th in the World Football Elo rankings.

According to Titanbet.co.uk, the hosts from France are the tournament favorites, with Germany close behind and Spain third. The longest odds belong to Albania and Northern Ireland. Both of those teams are making their first-ever appearance in the tournament, as are Iceland, Slovakia and Wales.

Germany is making their record 12th appearance in the tournament and will be looking to claim the championship for the first time in 20 years. As the defending World Cup Champions, Germany was number one in the Elo rankings before being recently overtaken by Argentina, who of course is not competing in this tournament. Read the rest of this entry →

Introducing the EPL’s Newly Promoted Clubs 0

Posted on July 20, 2015 by Amelia Rose

A new Premier League season is nearly upon us, as three new clubs look to take their place among the elite of the national game. Many will be looking to follow the example of Leicester City, who combined shrewd investment with an attacking philosophy to survive their first season in the EPL. This was despite the club being rooted to the bottom of the Premier League for most of the season, and there is no doubt that the newly promoted clubs will be in for a roller-coaster experience.

So who are these newly promoted teams, and what should we expect from them in the next nine months.

Bournemouth

Bournemouth

Bournemouth recently announced a sponsorship deal with Mansion casino, and the club has been engulfed in a genuine sense of optimism since its promotion. This is despite persistent rumours that Aston Villa have targeted the club’s star striker Callum Wilson as a replacement for the departing Christian Benteke and a significant lack of spending to date. Manager Eddie Howe is a positive and charismatic leader, however, while his teams attacking style may just be enough to ensure the Cherries survival this term. Read the rest of this entry →

Where Are the Big Premier League Transfers of Summer 2015 Going to Land? 0

Posted on March 31, 2015 by John Harris

soccerSpring is here, and summer is just around the corner. And that means one thing for sports fans, the summer transfer window. Who needs to watch football when you can become engrossed in the endlessly fascinating merry go round that is the transfer window?

And, as you’d expect, the rumors are flying around already. The title isn’t yet won (although Chelsea look set to clinch it anytime now) but that won’t stop us talking about who’s heading where this summer.

Chelsea
The biggest and most exciting rumor doing the rounds at the moment concerns Chelsea and a bid for Gareth Bale. A lot of people have been scratching their heads wondering how this Chelsea team could be improved, but Bale would certainly do that.

It’s said that the club are ready to make a £75 million bid to Real Madrid for the Welsh winger. It hasn’t been a happy time at Real Madrid this season for him. His time at the club started well, but he’s recently been criticized by fans. Read the rest of this entry →

25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster 4

Posted on April 18, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Earlier this week marked the 25th anniversary of the worst stadium-related disaster in English sports. On April 15, 1989, the Hillsborough Stadium disaster occurred during an FA Cup semi-final match between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium. The disaster resulted in the deaths of 96 people, who were honored at a ceremony at Anfield Stadium, the home of Liverpool Football Club. While Liverpool currently sits atop the English Premier League, this week serves as a period to remember the 96 people lost at Hillsborough Stadium 25 years ago.

hillsborough_stadium_disaster_17_october_2011

The Tragedy

25 years ago, the FA committee selected Hillsborough Stadium as the neutral site for the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. At that time, most English stadiums included high, steel fencing around the pitch in order to prohibit any rushing of the pitch, either friendly or hostile. Standing room for supporters was provided just beyond the fence. On the day of the disaster, only one terminal was opened for Liverpool fans to enter through, as a precaution to keep them separated from the Nottingham Forest fans. Massive overcrowding made the open terminal dangerous to both those who were attempting to get into the match and those who were being turned back for not having a ticket. In order to avoid injuries in the original entryway, police decided to open an exit gate that was designed to service departing fans.

The exit gate led to a narrow pathway to which fans flocked when it opened. Unfortunately for many fans, the narrow pathway led to the steel fence. As thousands of fans entered, many of them were pressed up against one another and a human crush formed. The police that were supposed to be stationed at the entrance of the gate should have cut off the flow of fans and direct them to another way in, but there were no policemen stationed outside the gate for unknown reasons.

Read the rest of this entry →

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