Saturday, March 31, 2012

Neymar looks up to his idols

Neymar's future has been the subject of constant speculation, as it becomes apparent that the Brazilian could move to either Real Madrid or Barcelona in due course. However, the tug-of-war between the Clasico rivals shows no signs of subsiding in the near future, with the Santos starlet admitting that he looks to both Los Blancos superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Blaugrana icon Lionel Messi for inspiration.

"I have both Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as my idols. If I can take a little of each player's game and make it my own, I would be very happy," Neymar stated in a recent interview. It's clear that the talented Santos star has set himself the target of walking in the footsteps of his heroes.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cry me a river!

Barcelona's 0-0 draw with AC Milan in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday was an entertaining spectacle, despite no goals being scored, but unsurprisingly the clash had more than a hint of controversy.

It centred around the state of the San Siro turf, which Barca coach Pep Guardiola and star duo Xavi and Javier Mascherano moaned was not suitably watered to allow them to utilise their tiki-taka passing style. The club have lodged a formal complaint to Uefa about the poor condition of the pitch, but the trio's tears would have been enough to moisten the surface ...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Balotelli gatecrashes Stramaccioni's Inter unveiling

Mario Balotelli's off-field antics stepped up another notch on Tuesday afternoon when he barged in uninvited on new Inter boss Andrea Stramaccioni's first press conference. The Manchester City star parked his Ferrari outside the building, strode in unexpectedly, shook hands with the coach and the Inter directors, and then left just as abruptly as he came.

The incident is the latest in a long line of unpredictable shenanigans concerning the volatile 21-year-old, who has created more headlines off the pitch than on it in his short career.

Ranieri the clown is fired from the Inter circus

After a string of sub-standard results, Claudio Ranieri was sacked as Inter coach on Monday night and was replaced by Primavera trainer Andrea Stramaccioni.

The final straw came when the Nerazzurri suffered a 2-0 loss against Juventus in the Derby d'Italia at the weekend.

Ranieri leaves Inter in eighth place in Serie A, eliminated from the Champions League and 10 points away from a qualification spot for next year's tournament. 'The Tinkerman' joins a list of 17 different coaches Massimo Moratti has gone through in the 17 years since he bought the club.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Masterful Messi gobbles up roly-poly Ronaldo's record

Lionel Messi made history again on Saturday night by breaking the record for most goals scored in a single La Liga season by a Barcelona player. The Argentine's first-half strike against Mallorca took his tally for the current league campaign to 35, thus securing him outright possession of a record he had been sharing with former Blaugrana forward Ronaldo. All and sundry were delighted by Messi's latest feat. Well, except perhaps for a certain burly Brazilian watching at home who has now been written out of the history books ...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

شو المشكلة؟

Madrid and Mourinho batten down the hatches as media silence continues

Real Madrid have maintained their media silence ahead of Saturday's game against Real Sociedad. The Spanish capital club put a halt to the information flow coming out of Santiago Bernabeu in support of Jose Mourinho's decision not to hold a press conference after the 1-1 draw with Villarreal on Wednesday. The coach felt refereeing decisions of late have not been fair to the current Liga leaders, and is keeping his lips sealed for the time being.

From Galacticos to Jurassicos - Real Madrid Island awaits

On Thursday afternoon, Real Madrid announced the ambitious news that they are planning to spend around $1 billion on a luxury holiday resort and theme park in the United Arab Emirates

Real Madrid Resort Island, as the project is known, will have a host of state-of-the-art facilities including a five-star hotel, and a water park. Club president Florentino Perez looks to be creating his very own Jurassic Park ...

Mancini beckons Tevez off the naughty step

Carlos Tevez appeared to have played his last game for Manchester City after refusing to warm up as a substitute during his side's Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich back in September. 

However, against the odds, the Argentine came off the bench to make his first appearance since that incident on Wednesday night against Chelsea. 

And what's more, he then proceeded to provide a match-winning assist for Samir Nasri to secure a 2-1 win for City, and in the process reignited their hopes of a first-ever Premier League title. Football's a funny old game, isn't it?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mes(si) que un club

Lionel Messi made history on Tuesday night by becoming Barcelona's all-time record goalscorer with his eighth hat-trick of the season. The Argentine's latest treble, which came in a 5-3 Liga win over Granada, took him past Cesar Rodriguez's tally of 232 goals set in the 1950s. Aged just 24, the triple Ballon d'Or winner's latest feat is certain to cement his legacy as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, to have graced the Camp Nou turf.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

the queue of managers lining up to sign Hazard

Lille playmaker Eden Hazard is currently one of the hottest properties in European football with many of the Continent's top teams interested in acquiring his services. 

Roberto Mancini became the latest manager to watch the Belgian on a scouting trip at the weekend, following the example of rival Sir Alex Ferguson.

Chelsea are also intrigued by the prospect of Hazard, but claim to have pulled out of the race due to competition. 

Yet Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp warned that his side will fight the top sides to secure the Belgian's signature. It looks set to be a hazardous race to sign the 21-year-old, but who will come out on top?

24 hours later ...

Chelsea's Fernando Torres finally got on the scoresheet on Sunday, after going an astonishing 1541 minutes without a goal. The Spanish striker bagged a double against Leicester City in the FA Cup sixth round to cap an impressive performance, in which his side won 5-2. The former Liverpool man had previously not scored in over 24 hours of football, and can finally lay to rest the quip, "he wouldn't score if he was there all day".

Monday, March 19, 2012

Messi & Gerrard - Barcelona and Liverpool superstars forever

Lionel Messi revealed this week that he would like to finish his career at Barcelona and admitted that he still enjoys a child-like love of the game. Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has claimed that Steven Gerrard's hat-trick against Everton shows that the 31-year-old midfielder can play for the Reds "for as long as he wants". With all of that in mind, one cannot help but suspect that these two great servants of their respective clubs will be around for many years to come ...

Ibrahimovic gets ready to rumble in Champions League scuffle

The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals took place on Friday, and threw up some thrilling encounters. The competition's surprise package, APOEL, were pitted against the might of Real Madrid, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic will have a second opportunity to get one over on Pep Guardiola and Barcelona. Bayern Munich's star man Franck Ribery will have to face his former club Olympique de Marseille, and Chelsea's comeback against Napoli was rewarded with a tie with Benfica.

Ferguson and Mancini join Wenger in hospital

Following Arsenal's valiant, yet unsuccessful, efforts to defeat AC Milan against the odds in the Champions League round of 16 last week and Chelsea's heroics against Napoli on Wednesday, the onus was firmly placed upon both Manchester clubs a day later to make similarly impressive comebacks, albeit in the Europa League.

However, it was not to be as United were alarmingly outclassed by Athletic Bilbao, crumbling to a 5-3 aggregate defeat at the San Mames, while City did not fare much better despite beating Sporting Lisbon 3-2 on the night. Furthermore, both Fergie and Mancini will now be consigned to joining Arsene Wenger in commiserating their European exits, rather than Roberto Di Matteo, basking his glory.

Chelsea come back from the dead

Since taking over at Chelsea on an interim basis, Roberto Di Matteo has lead the Blues to a three-match winning streak, including a miraculous comeback victory against Napoli in the Champions League to make the quarter-finals of Europe's premier club competition.
The Italian coach's faith in the club's old guard seems to be paying dividends, as goalscorers Didier Drogba, skipper John Terry and Frank Lampard all showed they are not dead yet on Wednesday night, whilst Napoli star trio Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik appeared to let the occasion get to their heads.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Can't Dance!!

Moratti clears out the old Inter garbage

Inter president Massimo Moratti may have dismissed suggestions that coach Claudio Ranieri will be sacked after the club's Champions League exit at the hands of Olympique de Marseille on Tuesday night, but the oil tycoon also conceded that he is considering overhauling his ageing, declining squad in the summer transfer market.
Senior players such as Maicon, Julio Cesar, Esteban Cambiasso and Wesley Sneijder have cause for concern with the Nerazzurri also out of the Coppa Italia, and needing a miracle to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hasta la vista, baby

Thomas Vermaelen's stoppage-time winner helped Arsenal move to within a single point of local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.
Vermaelen, affectionately known as 'The Verminator', displayed the recent determination that has flourished among the Gunners and Arsene Wenger was full of praise as his side came from behind to win in their fourth consecutive Premier League game. They now also have a gap of three points over fifth-placed Chelsea and look likely to grab a spot in next season's Champions League, despite last week's elimination from the competition by AC Milan.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Premier League pendulum

After a truly monumental Sunday for the two title-chasers, it is now clear that the Premier League pendulum has swung Sir Alex Ferguson's way.

Whilst his Manchester United team were swatting West Brom aside 2-0, Roberto Mancini was sweating in South Wales. A late Luke Moore goal was enough to give Swansea a well-deserved victory over Manchester City, which could have a huge bearing on where the league title will be heading come May.

The Strange Case of Dr Pep and Mr Mourinho

In the build-up to this weekend's La Liga action, Jose Mourinho voiced his opinion that he shared plenty of similarities with his Barcelona counterpart, Pep Mourinho. However in response, whilst admitting the pair are both hungry for victory, the Catalan trainer chose to distance himself from the Real Madrid coach's comments, stating that he would have to "revise his behaviour" if Mourinho's views were indeed, true. Is Pep turning into his own worst nightmare

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bielsa & Guardiola grill Ferguson

Athletic Bilbao put a serious dent in Manchester United's Europa League aspirations on Thursday night, recording a 3-2 victory over Sir Alex Ferguson's men at Old Trafford. It was a familiar feeling for the English champions, who were convincingly defeated 3-1 in last season's Champions League final by Barcelona.

Perhaps Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa discussed strategies for beating United during their famous 11-hour football talk at a barbecue in Argentina before the Spaniard moved into coaching ...

Messi stamps his mark on the global game

Barcelona may have breezed through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League thanks to a resounding 10-2 aggregate victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the round of 16 on Wednesday night, but there can be no denying the impact of Lionel Messi, who acted as the catalyst by putting on an inspirational display against the Germans in Camp Nou.

The Argentine contributed to the 7-1 scoreline with five goals of his own, earning him the distinction of becoming the first player in the competition's history to reach that tally in a single game, and also a place in folklore after being awarded a perfect 10 for his, well, perfect display.

Podolski for sale

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wenger's side give AC Milan an almighty scare

AC Milan survived a major scare against a spirited Arsenal side on Tuesday night, despite conceding three goals in the first half of their Champions League round-of-16, second-leg clash at the Emirates.

The Rossoneri had a hefty four-goal advantage from the game in Italy three weeks ago, but had their backs against the wall after first-half goals from Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie. AC Milan managed to wake up from their nightmare to emerge winners in the tie - but the likes of Massimiliano Allegri, Adriano Galliani and Silvio Berlusconi were given one hell of a fright along the way.

Wenger of the Middle East

On Monday Diego Maradona revealed that he would like to leave a legacy at Al Wasl akin to that of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. Maradona told DPA: "I would love to fulfil and go on to renew [my contract]; to become a sort of Arsene Wenger at Al Wasl."

The Argentine legend rejected claims that he took the job in Dubai for solely monetary reasons and went on to reveal his desire to lead the club to glory. Maradona's side currently sit fifth in the UAE Pro League, five points adrift of an AFC Champions League qualifying spot.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Big baby Abramovich throws away another toy

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is on the hunt for his eighth permanent manager at Stamford Bridge after sacking Andre Villas-Boas on Sunday. 

The dismissal came as little surprise following the Blues' 1-0 defeat to West Brom which further extended a miserable run of form for the west London club. 

The 34-year-old is the latest in a long line of coaches to have been shown the door by the Russian billionaire, with the likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti having already been dumped at the club after relatively short tenures. 

The only question that remains is who would dare take the role on next?

Amman Streets and The Snow

Van Persie is Arsenal's one-man team

Arsenal boosted their prospects of qualifying for the Champions League again next season with a somewhat fortuitous 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Saturday afternoon

After spending nearly the entire game under the cosh, they stole three crucial points in injury time. The reason? Robin van Persie, who clinically finished the only two chances which came his way during the 90 minutes. 

The Dutchman has now scored 31 goals in all competitions this season, seemingly single-handedly keeping his colleagues in with a shout of the top four ...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Benitez on the hunt for a new job

With two La Liga titles, one Uefa Cup, a Champions League triumph and an FA Cup medal in his trophy cabinet, Rafa Benitez comes with a sparkling track record of success.

However, the Spanish coach has been out of a job since he was dismissed by Inter back in December 2010, and may be getting desperate to get back to work - perhaps talk of two unsettled Portuguese will have got him interested ...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sahin desperate to catch Mourinho's eye

Nuri Sahin played 90 minutes for Turkey in midweek and despite a lack of match sharpness, he still showed some good passing range, leading his national team coach Abdullah Avci to voice his confidence that the midfielder will still be a success with Real Madrid 

However, after nine months and only a handful of appearances to his name under Jose Mourinho, the 23-year-old must be wondering what he must do to get a start in the Spanish capital.

Messi king of the hill

Lionel Messi went some way to banishing his Argentina demons on Wednesday night after putting on a virtuoso display to inspire his country to a 3-1 victory against Switzerland in Bern. His well-taken hat-trick also took his international goal tally to 22, surpassing legendary striker Mario Kempes and capping off a memorable night for the 24-year-old.

The fleet-footed attacker has been continually criticised by many for failing to replicate his form with Barcelona on the international stage, but his latest performance should see Portuguese counterpart Cristiano Ronaldo look on in envy following the Seleccao's latest disappointing result - a 0-0 draw in Poland.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pick on someone your own size!

Goalkeeper Joe Hart might be England's last man standing by the time Wednesday night's international friendly against Netherlands at Wembley kicks off, given the rate of withdrawals from the Three Lions' squad.  
Glen Johnson became the fifth player to pull out, joining Darren Bent, Wayne Rooney, Tom Cleverley and Kyle Walker on the injured list.....