Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Team of Euro 2012

Italy coach Prandelli worked wonders
for the Azzuri this summer
Another successful tournament draws to a close and one that saw Spain make history, becoming the first team to win three successive major international tournaments. Prior to Euro 2012, stories began to surface regarding racism being rife in both Poland and Ukraine, theories that proved untrue as both countries put on a superb tournament. The football on hand was spectacular and, as a result, Euro 2012 will go down as one of the greatest international competitions in recent memory.

With it, came stunning individual performances from players from the 16 representing nations and, as a result, below is my Team of Euro 2012. Playing a 4-3-3, it reads as follows:

Monday, 4 June 2012

The five to watch out for at Euro 2012

Young Dutch striker Luuk de Jong
is one that will impress this summer,
having netted 32 goals last season

The European Championships are almost upon us. The best players across the continent are set to show off their capabilities to the watching world and, with numerous performers, the chance to impress potential suitors is likely to be higher than ever before. With the tournament in Poland and Ukraine comes the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robin Van Persie and more to really prove why they should be considered the world’s greatest.

Yet, there are those that haven’t been hyped up to the standard of the aforementioned trio and numerous others. Those that will see the competition as the opportunity of a lifetime to take over the reins for the future and are set to take the game by storm. Below, are the five players that, given the chance, will light up Euro 2012.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Big summer for: Barcelona

Barcelona captain Puyol is one
that will need replacing soon

The past four years for Barcelona have been nothing short of mesmerising. Move and move, pass after pass, goal after goal; everything about them was exceptional. The dream on Holland legend Johan Cruyff, who spent 13 years as a player and manager with the Catalan side, was realised through former pupil Pep Guardiola once he was placed in charge of the club in 2008.

One of Cruyff’s fabled disciples, the Spaniard managed to become the most successful manager in the clubs illustrious history over the past four years, picking up 15 trophies in the process. The style of play on show, widely renowned as tika-taka, was a legacy of Cruyff’s to bring the ‘Dutch influence’ to Barcelona. He finally got to see it in action once Guardiola took over.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Big summer for: Chelsea

Marko Marin was the first signing of
the summer by Chelsea, arriving from
Werder Bremen

In March, Andre Villas-Boas was sacked as Chelsea manager. At the time, the Blues faced the possibility of an early exit from the Champions League, a difficult away trip to Birmingham City in the FA Cup and a top four finish was looking increasingly unlikely. Come May, the West London side had won two of the three competitions.

Hard to believe that, when the former FC Porto head coach was relieved of his duties and Roberto Di Matteo placed in interim charge, Chelsea were overcoming Liverpool at Wembley to lift their seventh FA Cup trophy and, just two weeks later, had defeated Bayern Munich, at the home of the German outfit, the Allianz Arena, on penalties to become the first London side to win the Champions League.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Big summer for: Inter Milan

Stramaccioni has recently been handed
a three-year contract by Inter Milan
chairman Massimo Moratti

2010 seems eons ago for Inter Milan. Under Jose Mourinho, in just his second full season in charge of the Nerazzuri, the club became the first team in the history of Italian football to secure the treble, winning the Scudetto, Coppa Italia and Champions League during the 2009/10 season.

However, having picked up the trophies, Mourinho opted to exit the San Siro on a high for Real Madrid and it has all been downhill since there. Since the Special One left, Inter have gone through five managers in a vain attempt to replicate the accolades he won the club during his two years in Italy.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Big summer for: Lille

Mathieu Debuchy is one to have been linked
with a move away from Lille this summer

Lille OSC are expected to undergo a major revamp this summer. Having secured a third place finish, just a year after their Ligue 1 win, a place in next year’s Champions League is guaranteed. The participation in Europe’s elite competition for the new campaign will boost the recognition of the club around the world.

However, will it be enough to convince the big name players currently plying their trade with club to remain in France? If their latest transfer dealings are anything to go by, it’s unlikely. Gervinho left last summer for Arsenal, Moussa Sow moved to Fenerbache whilst Eden Hazard recently confirmed he is to move to Chelsea.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Big summer for: Liverpool

Stewart Downing is one of many
that will have to prove his worth
to the new manager next season

A Carling Cup win did little to mask over the poor Premier League performance last season, where Liverpool, having spent heavily over the summer, could only muster an eighth place finish. If anyone can testify to that statement, it’s Kenny Dalglish, who was sacked from his position at the club a little over a week ago.

With the financial backing of the Fenway Sports Group, the Reds were expected to challenge for, at least, a top four finish. However, having dropped too many points at Anfield, a place they lost just following Dalglish’s appointment for the latter half of the 2010/11 season, the Merseyside outfit finished 17 points behind fourth place Tottenham Hotspur.

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