Posts Tagged ‘Real Madrid’

Weekly Photoshop – Sam Allardyce

28/09/2010

You may have heard Sam Allardyce spouting lots of rubbish recently. Apparently he could win the double at Real Madrid or Inter every season, easy. In his saved game on Football Manager perhaps. Somehow in real life I don’t think lumping it forward to emergency striker Chris Samba is quite going to cut it at the Bernabeu. Naturally he was this week’s Photoshop them in the Guardian.

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Sam Allardyce is always going on about his use of the latest football trends and innovations. One has to assume he would start taking C-Ron's beachwear advice too...

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More here. An easy target really.

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T.

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Season Previews 2010/11 – Chelsea

12/08/2010

Chelsea

Last Season: 1st + FA Cup Winners

New Signings: Ramires, Benayoun, Kalas, Delac

Key Player: Didier Drogba

One To Watch: Gael Kakuta

Needs  A Big Year: Nicolas Anelka

Would Quite Like: Champions League glory. Preferably over the Special One in the final.

Prediction: 3rd

Thoughts: Chelsea are one of the most difficult teams to preview this season in my opinion. Clearly the strongest team last season, the double winners have by their standards undertaken quite an overhaul. Out go Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Deco, Ricky Carvalho and youngster Miroslav Stoch to be replaced so far by just Ramires and Yossi Benayoun in terms of players who will contribute immediately.

There is obviously a determination to reduce the age of the squad and introduce some fresh blood to a team who has won everything but the Champions League in the last five years. Benayoun is a less injured and more consistent version of Cole while Ramires gives them a valid option on the right hand side of midfield. Ballack and Deco won’t be missed but the sale of Carvalho is an interesting one.

He certainly wanted to leave, stating he would even swim to Madrid to join Jose but I’m intrigued as to whether Chelsea will replace him or promote Bruma to 4th choice and play Alex alongside Terry. Carvalho was the best pure defender at Chelsea in my opinion, knowing all the tricks of the trade. However I guess Chelsea considered £6m+ for an often injured 32-year-old who played 30+ league games just once in his six year stay as good business.

Carvalho doing what he does best.

The main reason I’m a bit down on Chelsea this season is I just can’t see Lampard, Drogba and Malouda all having as good a year as last season, where they scored 63 goals put together. Terry looks ever more lumbering at the back while at full back you have Ashley Cole’s off-field issues clearly affecting him and Bosingwa still without a comeback date. Their rivals will be stronger too and it’s unclear whether the young players coming through at Stamford Bridge will be effective.

In terms of positives, everyone in the Chelsea squad has been there and done that – the team is full of proven winners. Drogba, Lampard et al may all be another year older but they’re still better than most. Plus the biggest bonus will be the return of Michael Essien, who is the best box to box midfielder in the league. His return to fitness should see 433 being played again with Lampard and Ramires joining him in a fearsome midfield. I sense that we may yet see a creative superstar come in to play alongside Malouda and Drogba in the forward line. Mesut Ozil perhaps?

Super good.

Chelsea will be there or thereabouts and even though I have them 3rd I could quite easily see them finishing anywhere from 1st through to 4th. I just feel that it may be the last shot at the Champions League for this generation and all eyes will be on that particular trophy.

T.

World Cup Bet Of The Day – The Final

11/07/2010

Running Total: +0.23 units

The news that Klose was out injured for yesterday’s 3rd/4th playoff meant another bet had to be found. The simple option of over 2.5 goals was taken meaning this column is back in profit just in time for the end of the finals.

I do feel a bit sorry for Klose not getting at least the chance to equal Ronaldo’s record. Say what you want about him being not as good but at the end of the day he’s produced in three World Cups.

Anyway, on to today’s game which should hopefully be a classic between Holland and Spain.

Spain are heavy favourites to win this and you can get 14/5 on a Holland victory in 90 minutes which seems very high. While the Dutch haven’t been as impressive I get the feeling it’s partly because people still associate them with the more attacking styles of days gone by and think that because they’re not scoring three or four a game they’re not playing well.

This Dutch team is unbeaten in 24 and is more than capable of causing a so called upset. However, despite this you can’t deny Spain should be favourites and the 11/10 on them to win in 90 minutes is not terrible value given how in control they’ve been in all their matches.

In terms of the scorers I have a hunch van Persie might finally get another goal to go with his good performances and he’s 5/2 to score anytime which seems generous. Change it to first goalscorer and you can get as high 8/1. Lastly, him to score and Holland to win is 6/1.

David Villa is 6/5 to score anytime while Dutch form man (and top scorer rival) Wesley Sneijder is 10/3 – again very generous.

There’s been some talk that Spain may have to come from behind to win this and that wouldn’t surprise me, though the one time they went behind in this tournament they lost. You can get as high as 28/1 on a Holland HT/Spain FT result but perhaps the more likely scenario is Draw HT/Spain FT which is 7/2 in most places but as high as 4/1 in Ladbrokes and Paddy Power.

Finally Howard Webb is in charge which means there’ll be a few yellow cards. Mark van Bommel is 8/1 to be first booked while fellow hatchet man Nigel de Jong is 9/1. Take your pick and fill your boots. It might be prudent to bet on some of the full-backs getting booked too. I could see Robben getting either Capdevilla and/or Ramos booked while the Dutch full backs will also be at risk when facing the likes of Pedro and Iniesta.

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Bets of the day:

Robin van Persie to score anytime @ 5/2

Holland to win in 90 minutes @ 14/5

Basically you can go with the aforementioned combined bet at 6/1 but I’d rather split it and increase my chances. I’m going with heart over head with these selections but I just have a hunch that Holland are going to do it. Alternatively just bet on Spain to win in 90 and double your money.

T.

Season Predictions 09/10 – How They Turned Out

31/05/2010

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’m still in two minds about whether to do season reviews for each club – to be honest I’m in World Cup mode now. Perhaps I’ll still get round to it though.

Back in August I played a mug’s game and tried to predict how everyone would finish. Here’s what actually happened:

'Expert' predictions...

Looking at the results showed I got just three clubs spot on: Man City in 5th and basement dwellers Hull and Pompey taking the bottom two places. In my defence I was only one place out with six other clubs but really this table looks like what it is, rubbish punditry.

I think if Gareth Southgate and Garth Crooks had a bastard lovechild it would look something like this predictions table (enjoy those nightmare thoughts kids).

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In terms of the thinking, I had found it really tricky to split the top three when writing pre-season predictions. My loyalties to Arsenal may have played a part in placing them second while I couldn’t bear to predict Chelsea as Champions even though deep down I knew they had retained the most strength over the summer.

A similar scenario led to placing Spurs 7th – I was hardly going to predict them a Champions League spot was I?! I underestimated Liverpool’s decline and overestimated Sunderland’s improvement.

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The biggest mistake was Birmingham, a full nine places out, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who had them down to struggle. Fair play to Alex McLeish (who I had as first sacking!), he brilliantly led them to a top half finish.

The bottom half was slightly better predicted clubs wise, if not positions wise. The dearth of quality is such that it’s pot luck as to where the likes of Bolton and Wigan finish. I got three of the bottom four right and on another day would have predicted Burnley to come in 18th not 17th.

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In terms of the cups and other stuff it went like this:

And I thought the league prediction was bad...

Oh dear. Only Bayern Munich correct and I suppose West Brom for promotion. If the Premier League table was the Southgate/Crooks lovechild then this is the resulting mess when said lovechild had a threesome with Alan Shearer and Jamie Redknapp. I literally couldn’t do any worse at being a pundit. Like I said at the beginning, it’s time for the World Cup…

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T.

Champions League Draw Reaction

28/08/2009

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux, Maccabi Haifa.
Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg.
Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich.
Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, APOEL Nicosia.
Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni.
Group F: Barcelona, Inter Milan, Dynamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan.
Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni.
Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

Big ears

Big ears

Quite an interesting draw yesterday, and the British clubs on the whole will be happy with the groups they have landed in. No obvious group of death but certainly quite a few where three teams will be competing to qualify.

Group A is quite tough to call. You have the traditional heavyweights of Bayern and Juventus joined by the Ligue 1 Champions Bordeaux. The Germans have made a shoddy start under Van Gaal this year and it remains to be seen if they are preparing to sell Ribery following the arrival of Robben, Juve have bought well this summer and should be strong while it will be interesting to see if Bordeaux have the players to compete at this level. We can safely say Maccabi will be bottom.

What price Bordeaux breaking it up?

What price Bordeaux breaking it up?

Man Utd have a slightly trickier task then usual in Group B but should still comfortably qualify. The long distance trips to CSKA and Besiktas might be a drag, and they drew the one fourth pot team no one wanted in German champs Wolfsburg. Wolsburg have kept the team that took them to the title last season (bar the manager) and Edin Dzeko will look to continue impressing scouts across Europe. Fergie’s side should come top and it will be between Wolfsburg and CSKA for second.

Group C sees Kaka go back to Milan with his new side Real Madrid but they should both be qualifying. Marseille might cause a shock or two at home but will likely fall short in third place.

Chelsea face away tricky ties at Atletico and Porto in Group D as well quite a long trip to Nicosia but their experience should see them qualify. After all wasn’t Ancelotti hired to win this? Porto and Atletico will tear strips off each other and I think that the latter’s superior strike force of Forlan and Aguero will see them join the Blues in the second round.

Group E will be scrappy and I can see both Lyon and Fiorentina causing Liverpool some problems. It could be very tight between these three even though on paper Liverpool are easily the strongest side. They seem to find compact technical teams quite difficult to break down in the group stages and it wouldn’t surprise me if they went through in second.

Group F sees Zlatan and Eto’o return to their respective former clubs with Barcelona playing Inter at the San Siro on matchday 1. Both teams should comfortably qualify though Barcelona’s away games against Rubin Kazan and Kiev are not until November onwards so the weather could play a factor. In particular Guardiola’s side will not want to go to Kiev in December needing something from their last game. I’m sure that won’t be the case though.

Swapsies

Swapsies

Rangers have a fair chance at qualifying from Group G as they’ve been paired with one of the weaker top seeds in Sevilla as well as Stuttgart and Unirea. I think it will be between them and the German side for second with Sevilla’s experience at this level seeing them through in first.

The last group (H) sees Arsenal get quite a gentle draw alongside Standard Liege, AZ Alkmaar and Olympiakos. None will be easy to beat, but all should be beaten. Liege will look to Steven Defour to try and help them get second ahead of Alkmaar but I suspect it will be the Dutch champions who end up nabbing it behind the Gunners in first.

I suspect there won’t be too many shocks overall but I’m sure one or two clubs will manage to mess things up. It all starts on September 14th, can’t wait!

T.

Arsenal 3 – 1 Celtic (agg 5-1)

26/08/2009

A comfortable win for Arsenal this evening, and they go through into the main draw for the group stages tomorrow. Celtic might be justified in feeling Eduardo dived to get the penalty for the first goal, but truth be told they created very little in the 90 minutes to suggest the result would have been different had the spot kick not been given.

Eboue and Arshavin put a gloss on the aggregate score before Massimo Donati scored the best goal of the tie with a lovely angled volley. Despite having to come through the qualifiers, the Gunners’ recent European record means they are seeded in pot one.

Proof that Eduardo failed to clear Boruc's mini high jump.

Proof that Eduardo failed to clear Boruc's mini high jump.

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The 32 teams qualified for the main draw are as follows:

Pot One: Barcelona, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd, AC Milan, Arsenal, Sevilla, Bayern Munich

Pot Two: Lyon, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, CSKA Moscow, Porto, AZ Alkmaar, Juventus, Rangers

Pot Three: Olympiakos, Marseille, Dinamo Kiev, Stuttgart, Fiorentina, Atletico Madrid, Bordeaux, Besiktas

Pot Four: Wolfsburg, Standard Liege, Maccabi Haifa, FC Zurich, Rubin Kazan, Unirea Urziceni, APOEL Nicosia, Debreceni

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Some interesting teams in each pot and no doubt all the top seeds will be looking to avoid Inter, Real Madrid and Juventus in Pot two. Real especially have paid for three consecutive second round knockouts. What price an immediate return to Anfield or Old Trafford for Xabi Alonso or Ronaldo? Pot three has lots of very capable teams who could hold their own with Stuttgart, Atletico and Fiorentina particularly dangerous.

As for Pot four, Wolfsburg are German Champions no less, and have kept the strikeforce which banged in about 60 goals last season. Rubin Kazan will be a tricky side to face too, having overcome the traditional Russian powerhouses in Moscow and St. Petersburg to become Russian Champions last year. Some potentially long distance trips in that pot as well.

The draw is made tomorrow afternoon at some point and we’ll have reaction once it’s all said and done.

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T.

Weekly Photoshop – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

06/08/2009

The summer’s most ridiculous transfer is the theme this week. Barcelona in all their wisdom decided to part with Samuel Eto’o AND 49 million in exchange for one of the most overrated players in football – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I wrote at the time about how poor value this is and I can only think that Barcelona felt a statement had to be made following Real Madrid’s £200 million shopping trip this summer. He will score plenty of worthless goals but even I could score goals playing up front for Barcelona…

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"Of course you can rely on me in the big games Pep." Zlatan's already epic nose suddenly seems to increase in size...

"Of course you can rely on me in the big games Pep." Zlatan's already epic nose suddenly seems to increase in size...

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More to be found here.

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T.

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Old ones.

The Curious Transfer of Zlatan Ibrahimovic

18/07/2009

Here’s a transfer that’s got me a bit confused. Barcelona are set to give Inter Samuel Eto’o, Alex Hleb on loan for a year AND a fee in the region of £35 million in exchange for the services of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Now I don’t really understand the thinking behind this for many reasons. Not least the valuation. This sees Inter getting around €60 million worth for Zlatan putting him on a par with Kaka in terms of fee.

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Now I know Eto’o is seen as a bit of a disruptive influence and shows no signs of extending the one year remaining on his contract but surely Barca could do better than giving both him and €40m for Zlatan. Famously called “the most overrated player in world football” by Martin O’Neill during the last World Cup, I’ve never understood why he is valued so highly. Yes he makes for a great Youtube compilation (see below) due to his capability for the ridiculous and admittedly he scored 29 goals last year (25 in Serie A), but he has always struck me as something of a flat-track bully who doesn’t do it in the big Champions League games or international tournaments.

Barcelona’s attack hardly needs strengthening after last seasons 158 goals in all comps though I imagine Zlatan (or indeed the rumoured David Villa) would give them more of a hold up option for Henry and Messi to play off. They would be better off getting a new goalkeeper and perhaps some defensive help. I can’t help thinking that having seen Real Madrid break two world records in buying Kaka and Ronaldo, Barcelona feel they have to make a similar statement. The reason that Real had to buy so much was that they were crap last season and even with this new forward line I reckon they’re still a top deep lying midfielder away from being a side that can win things (explains the Alonso interest then).

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It will be quite amusing to see how Eto’o and Mourinho work together too, given the latter’s numerous run ins with Zlatan. Eto’o is not afraid of throwing his toys out of the pram and I can imagine more than one confrontation this coming season. That said he will no doubt still score plenty of goals but it will be an entertaining 09/10 at the San Siro. Hleb as well (funny how quickly he’s become irrelevant) doesn’t strike me a Mourinho player and given that Guardiola didn’t trust him by the season’s end I can’t think Jose will either.

crazy-eto'o

Crazy Eto'o

All in all Inter will be laughing all the way to the bank, while Barcelona will wonder at some point next April why they are on the wrong end of a Champions League exit thanks to an overrated striker who couldn’t score in a big game.

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T.

Weekly Photoshop – Franck Ribery

16/07/2009

Everyone’s most in-demand Frenchman is this week’s theme. Franck Ribery is currently coveted by a host of major clubs, not least Real Madrid to complete their attacking foursome, Man Utd to replace Ronaldo and Chelsea as they need a marquee signing. It’ll be interesting to see if Bayern Munich end up selling to anyone, as they’ve been quite stubborn about it so far. Anyway, I did a couple this week so here you go:

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Harshly, Ribery's face is unsuitable for viewing by minors

Harshly, Ribery's face is unsuitable for viewing by minors.

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"Ach, I'm sure there was someone else I was meant to sign" - Fergie's memory gets a bit hazy in his old age.

"Ach, I'm sure there was someone else I was meant to sign" - Fergie's memory gets a bit hazy in his old age.

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The rest of this week’s gallery can be found here.

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T.

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Old ones can be found here.

Seven To Replace Number Seven

18/06/2009

Right, there was only so long I could keep the Spurs badge as the first thing you see when reach the blog – time for some new posts. Since we last wrote, it seems the great primadonna himself is on his way to Real Madrid for the princely sum of £80 million.

Ronaldo practices his amateur theatrics...

Ronaldo practices his amateur theatrics...

Just who will Man Utd buy to replace the tantrums, the diving, the stepovers and the occasional 40 goal seasons? Let’s take a look at some potential replacements.

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1. Antonio Valencia – Wigan – £14-18million

Valencia

Valencia

Last season: League – 31 games/3 goals.

This is the most likely deal to go through just due to who the selling club are. Valencia has impressed at the JJB though perhaps doesn’t yet score enough (or indeed assist with only five last season). It appears some move have already been made to sign him but if I’m honest I’m not sure he’s good enough for a team like Man Utd. He is only 23 so has plenty of time to improve but Wigan will have done very good business if they get £18m for him.

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2. Karim Benzema – Lyon – £30million+

Benzema

Benzema

Last season: League – 36 games/17 goals. Champions League – 8 games/5 goals.

The highest rated French player still playing in Ligue 1. Benzema has scored 54 goals in the past two years and would be a great addition up front. Pacy, strong, good with both left and right foot as well as decent in the air, he could add the pace that has been lacking from Utd’s forward line in the past few years. He’s still only 21 so has yet to completely fulfil his potential. I could see him forming a terrific partnership with Rooney or indeed Berbatov and he could well follow in the footsteps of Utd’s last great French number 7. Needless to say, Lyon chairman Aulas would drive a hard bargain as usual.

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3. Sergio Aguero – Atletico Madrid – £40million+

Aguero

Aguero

Last season: League – 37 games/17 goals. Champions League – 8 games/3 goals.

The youngest player to ever play in the Argentinian league, Aguero has starred for Atletico in the past two years. Maradona’s son in law has formed a great partnership with ex-Utd striker Diego Forlan and is capable of plenty of assists to go with his goals. At 5’7″ he probably lacks the power that Ronaldo brought to the side and he make take time to adapt to English football but he has the ability to produce the unexpected. Still only 21, his age couple with his buy out clause means it would take big money to prize him from the Vicente Calderon.

4. David Silva – Valencia – £20million

Silva

Silva

Last season: League – 19 games/4 goals. UEFA Cup – 3 games/1 goal.

Silva is a less obvious choice and may be someone to target if Valencia isn’t signed. A diminutive winger/number 10, he was an important player in Spain’s Euro 2008 win before ankle ligament damage meant a truncated 2008/09 season. Tricky and creative with a sweet left foot, aged 23 he can still improve. He is another who maybe too slight for the Premier League but at the same time if Rafa Benitez is after him, why shouldn’t Fergie try and gazump him. One of the cheaper potential targets too, given Valencia’s financial troubles.

5. David Villa – Valencia – £35 million

Villa

Villa

Last season: League – 33 games/28 goals. UEFA Cup – 5 games/1 goal.

The most coveted striker in Europe at the moment having had his best season yet for Valencia whilst also still basking in the glory of being top scorer in Euro 2008. Strong, powerful and pacy, Villa is a complete striker at a peak age (27). Competition will be fierce in the race to sign him and to be honest it would be a surprise if he went anywhere other than Real Madrid.

6. Arjen Robben – Real Madrid – £7-20million.

Robben

Robben

Last season: League – 29 games/7 goals. Champions League – 6 games/1 goal.

A bit of curveball this in light of his injury record but there’s no doubting Robben’s ability when he’s fit. A pacy, direct winger with the ability to go past a man, Robben has always been susceptible to injury but the plus side is that he has Premier League experience with Chelsea. For two years he was a key player in their title winning sides, before Mourinho got fed up with him missing games. Fergie wanted to sign him before he went to Chelsea so what price a cheeky bid now. Still young (25) even though he looks 35 and his price should be relatively cheap given Real’s clearout of all things Dutch.

7. Franck Ribery – Bayern Munich – £50million+

Ribery

Ribery

Last season: League  – 25 games/9 goals. Europe – 8 games/4 goals.

The best player in the Bundesliga and one of the best players in the world. This is the man I think would be able to replace Ronaldo most in terms of goals, determination and overall impact. He can play both left and right as well as behind a striker and has ferocious striking ability, not least from distance. With the fees that Kaka and Ronaldo have gone for his price tag will be big, though if reports are to be believed he already may be too old for United. To be honest I think he’s still worth pursuing, just as out of all the suggested targets he is the one most at his peak. A big game player for a club who have plenty of big games.

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T.


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