Tuesday, June 10, 2014
4 years of waiting finally comes to an end this week and football fans around the world can't f*ckin' wait! Obviously the luxury of watching Football every single day is something we embrace like a kid with chocolate - so we've got to make the most of it. This World Cup does have a bitter/sweet feeling to it. Knowing that FIFA has damaged so many peoples lives in Brazil just for this tournament to take place is something that isn't publicized enough (thank you John Olivier). We're oblivious to it, but FIFA have royally screwed loads of Brazilians (with the help of the local government) just for this month to happen.
That's the downside to it, but the same can be said about pretty much anything in Sports (Nike, Adidas, take note...); the upside is that we've got about 30 days of non-stop Football to look forward to. And if you think like me, this feels like it's going to be the last great World Cup. With Russia hosting in 2018 and then Qatar in 2022, one can't help but feel that even Football's most loved spectacle is going to lose its charm from this point forward.
As always, on a personal level, I'll be rooting for Nigeria & England (though they've got far too many players I despise), and below are my predictions for the tournament:
WINNER OF THE WORLD CUP 2014:
I've dropped a bet on Portugal to win the tournament because the odds are ridiculous (32/1), but let's not kid ourselves, this is Brazil's trophy to lose. It'll be hard to see anyone else winning it, but I do hope I'm wrong.
GOLDEN BOOT AWARD (Top Goalscorer):
I'm going for the outside shout here, Sergio Aguero. Looking at Argentina's group, every game should be a smashing for them. 3-0, 4-0, 5-0 are scorelines we could/should expect in that group and I think given the fact that Aguero will be fresh and fit having missed a huge chunk of Man City's season, he'll be the one with less pressure on his shoulders to score.
GOLDEN BALL AWARD (Best Player):
I'll go for Neymar. He's playing at home and with Brazil, he's a completely different monster. He seems to thrive on the pressure. However, given how much Nike, Beats and all other brands are investing in him, you just feel like something, somewhere, is going to go wrong.
GOLDEN GLOVE (Best Keeper):
Manuel Neuer is the only possible winner in here. Germany will reach the semi-finals at the very least and they'll have their steady rock at the back to defend them throughout.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT:
I'm not sure what the age limit is here anymore, but if 23 still counts, then Eden Hazard (as the obvious choice) or Antoine Griezmann (as the outsider) could take this. But to be safe, I'll go for Paul Pogba. Losing Ribery and dropping Nasri will definitely hurt France, but Pogba is a beast in the middle and he'll prove it at this World Cup.
Or I might be wrong and Lukaku will just end up tearing everyone to pieces...
Other popular predictions include:
England to go out on penalties.
Italy to get knocked out of the group stage (you heard it here first!).
Holland to play beautiful football only to be knocked out despite their efforts in the quarter finals.
Lionel Messi to be criticized.
Spain to struggle.
Chile to be the surprise package of the World Cup (Belgium doesn't count as a surprise package - they're 5th favorites to win the damn thing).
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The 2013/14 Premier League is now over and has crowned Manchester City as Champions for the 2nd time in 3 years. Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal occupied 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively, whereas Everton and Tottenham grabbed the Europa League spots in 5th and 6th. At the other end Norwich City, Fulham and Cardiff City all got relegated. It's been a much more unpredictable season this time around, so I'm going to give my verdict on some of the best and worst players, moments etc...of the season.
Player of the season: Luis Suarez
You can hate him all you want and despise his constant diving, this guy is the best player in the Premier League at the moment. I'd rate him slightly above Yaya Toure as the best in the league simply because, to be fair, he plays with inferior players week in, week out, and still manages every single week to cause trouble to defences across the country. I can't think of a better striker in world football at the moment. I feel dirty saying that...
Best Signing of the season: Romelu Lukaku
The Belgian striker was on loan all season at Everton from Chelsea and he performed brilliantly. To think that Chelsea's biggest problem this season was not having a proper out-and-out striker is ridiculous considering they shipped Lukaku off so easily. Let's see what his future plans are because his 16 goals this season will definitely get him some interested suitors.
Worst Signing of the season: Erik Lamela
There are quite a few candidates in here (Fellaini, Osvaldo, Soldado, Aspas...), but Lamela takes this title. Having cost Tottenham 30 million (yes 30!), he hasn't played a single game in 2014 and when he did play, he looked completely out of his depth. Hashtags such as #FreeLamela have done the rounds and it's fair to say that he's been by far the biggest flop of the season considering he was brought in to replace Gareth Bale.
Match of the season: Manchester City 6 - 3 Arsenal
This game was just ridiculous. Horrible defending was met with glee by both sets of attacking sides, making it an incredibly enjoyable game for a neutral. Let's not forget to mention that there were 2 goals in added time and that this was probably the game that announced to the Premier League just how good Fernandinho is.
Moment of the season: Paolo Di Canio in front of Sunderland fans
This was entertainment at its best. You could almost feel like he was acting in a Hollywood movie when Di Canio stood out there in front of Sunderland's fans who were booing him and telling him to leave the club. Subsequently he did leave the club and Gus Poyet took over and saved them. A close second would be Steven Gerrard's "300"-like speech that made everyone believe that this was going to be their year until he slipped.
Disappointment of the season: David Moyes
Having won the Community Shield and then his first game in charge in Swansea, you could imagine that Moyes must have thought the job was going to be a piece of cake. He was so incredibly useless that he makes Roy Hodgson's tenure at Liverpool feel like a success.
Losers of the year: Manchester United
I'm trying to think of what can be said that hasn't been said already by everyone (including United fans like myself). The whole "Chosen One" banner was a farce, not to mention the "Wrong One" banner which followed, as well as the poor management by the newly-appointed David Moyes which went hand in hand with the poor decision-making by Ed Woodward. To put it into one solid sentence: Manchester United were terriblethis year and have got no one to blame but themselves. Sir Alex's handpicked successor proved to be a horrible choice and the blind faith United's superiors put in him was shocking at times. It's all over now and United's fans can breathe a sigh of relief and hope for better days ahead. All in all, it was an embarrassing season to be a United fan.
Manager of the year: Tony Pulis
You can talk about Brendan Rodgers or Manuel Pellegrini, but the job that Pulis did in bringing Crystal Palace back from the dead was incredible. They were a laughing stock at the beginning of the season, but somehow he managed to revitalize them and get them out of the drop zone and into safety while performing quite admirably. I'd also say that Gus Poyet deserves a mention given his final month "miracle" which saved Sunderland.
Young Player of the year: Seamus Coleman
There were a few candidates in here, but Coleman was quite simply superb. His 7 goals this season were priceless and he was an instrumental part in what made Everton's defence one of the meanest all season (conceding only 39 goals - only Chelsea have a better record).
Goal of the season: Wayne Rooney / Jonjo Shelvey
Both equally and similarly impressive, I can't seem to decide which one I prefer. Both of them were purely instinctive making them both brilliant goals.
What are yours?
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
No, it is not. So the media can stop throwing that phrase whenever reporting about Lionel Messi's recent injury problems. I'm not a Lionel Messi fan by any means, but the amount of coverage his injury has been getting and the comments about this being the beginning of the end of Messi are ridiculous.
This is the same player who has won the Ballon D'Or 4 times in a row, who has broken every possible record in Spain, is consistently creating new records and is probably going to break every possible record for Barcelona, Argentina and in world football. Suddenly after he gets an injury, it's the end of the world and he's on his way down the drain due to a "misfiring season" (in which he's scored 14 goals in 16 games so far by the way).
Barcelona, with or without Messi, have been getting the results and playing well. They'll carry on doing so long after he's gone and were already doing so long before he arrived, so this injury won't necessarily affect them as all their other stars have raised their games to help ease Messi's absence.
Below are the list of injuries Lionel Messi has had throughout his career. Can anyone spot the common point? 9 out of his 11 injuries have been hamstring injuries. Those injuries are common in players who use their speed in excess. Ryan Giggs suffered of this quite regularly early on in his career and he's had to adjust his game and body to avoid that injury (Yoga training helped too it seems). Lionel Messi will do the same in the long run.
He is only 26 years old, an injury like this is only normal and he will be back banging the goals by the start of 2014. You can bet your house on that. The guy deserves a break. He's been performing at an incredibly surreal level since 2007 (yes, I'm complimenting him), it's only normal that his body gives him warning signs every once in a while. This might actually a blessing in disguise, who knows...
When eventually Messi becomes just another normal player (because that's what will happen by the time he hits 30 years old) and scores 1 goal every 2 games or so, it will be considered by many as his "demise", but they'll forget that even performing under-par, that will still be better than most of the strikers out there. Until that moment comes, the usual Lionel Messi will be back soon...