24 June 2012

Premier League | Trio of Chasers for Rondón of Málaga

The Venezuelan Salomón Rondón, currently plying his trade with the Andalusian club Málaga, is a reported transfer target for three Premier League clubs, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool

Premier League | Wenger

Football is a competitive enterprise.  Players have to beat their opponents; the team has to score more goals than their opponents;  and the manager has to outwit his opposite number.

Arséne Wenger has not done too bad a job at winning matches (not as good as some others, for sure), but matches are one off the pitch as well as on it.  The best players are a valuable and desirable commodity.

Which it is why it is a little odd that he is quoted in De Telegraaf as saying; "Sometimes people try and destroy your work."  He went on to say, "I lost Nasri, Clichy and Fabregas at an age when they could have made the difference for Arsenal."

As he must know, if his players are any good, they will be coveted by other successful teams, like, for example, Manchester City, Barcelona.  It is up to the Arsenal board and Wenger to do what it takes to keep their star performers.  Robin Van Persie, anyone?

23 June 2012

Premier League | Cudicini Hedges His Bets Over Next Tottenham Manager

Carlo Cudicini, the Tottenham keeper, has decided that he had better make sure that the next Tottenham manager, whoever that may be, knows that he, the keeper, is 100% behind him.

He tells Sky Sports Italia that "Tottenham are a great team and he could learn a lot here."

But Cudicini knows that André Villas-Boas may not be the next manager, even though he is the favourite at 1.38 with Betfair.  So he also says, of Rafa Benitez, "Benitez did very well in England as coach of Liverpool and he knows English football very well."

In case that was not enough (Benitez is a 75/1 outsider), he mentioned to Radio Kiss Kiss, "[Fabio] Capello to Tottenham would make me very happy,"

So, just to be clear, if you want to be the next Tottenham manager, Carlo will welcome you with open arms.

22 June 2012

Premier League News | Wenger: Van Persie will stay at Arsenal

Speculation continues over Robin Van Persie's contract negotiations. He has 12 months remaining on his contract and Manchester City are said to be interested in signing the Arsenal and Holland striker. 

Sky Sports News have quoted Arsene Wenger as saying to Italian newspaper La Repubblica,
"He will stay at Arsenal" (link below). 

Premier League | Grant Holt to hold talks with Norwich

Grant Holt will speak to new Norwich City manager, Chris Hughton, before deciding his future.

Holt has been linked with West Ham, but his agent has said that there will be no decision made until the manager has returned from holiday.

Premier League | Transfer Rumour | Daniele de Rossi

Daniele de Rossi, who signed a five year contract with his club, Roma, has made a minor attempt to place some cats in amongst the pigeons by saying;

"I have received many offers from English football. And I must say that I feel attraction for it. 
I like English football very much. I think now it's probably more interesting than Italian football.
 There are lots of outstanding and talented players, as is the case for Spain as well."
 Does he want a move already, or merely creating a bit of mischief?  Perhaps he expected to be playing France in the quarter-finals, and has just seen the pound signs (or Euro signs) flashing before his eyes.

21 June 2012

Premier League | Shirt Sponsorship

Shirt sponsorship has been with us for many years now, but how much does it bring in to clubs?

Sport Business reports that the largest clubs, unsurprisingly, rake in the most money.  The two Manchester clubs get €22m each, but what is the lowest amount you can get away with as a shirt sponsor in the Premier League?

The lowest amount paid (apart from Blackburn, who have generously donated the space on their shirts to the Princes' Trust) is €300, 000 paid by insurance giant Aviva to Norwich City.

20 June 2012

Premier League | Transfer News | Premiership

Transfer News From The Premier League.

As today is devoid of Euro 2012 matches, it seems an opportune moment to catch up with what transfers have been happening with the Premier League clubs.


Manuel Almunia has been released, but has yet to find another club, although rumour has it he has been connected with Fiorentina.

Lukas Podolski, who scored in Germany's game against Denmark has been signed from Cologne.

There is a suggestion that the club will accept offers for Robin van Persie of around  £30m.

Aston Villa

Carlos Cuellar, Emile Heskey and Brad Guzan have been released, and Brett Holman will arrive from AZ Alkmaar on a free transfer.


Chelsea welcome Eden Hazard from Lille and Marko Marin from Werder Bremen.  Didier Drogba has left for China.


James McFadden and Marcus Hahnemann have been released.  There are no signings as of now, but David Moyes is rumoured to be on his way to Tottenham Hotspur.  These rumours are, as always, hotly denied.


Andy Johnson has signed for local rivals, QPR.  The club are also linked with Andrei Arshavin.


Fabio Aurelia has left Merseyside to go to Gremio (Portugal, apparently).  They are controversially linked with Gylffi Sigurdsson.  It's controversial, because Brendan Rodgers began to sign Sigurdsson when he was manager of Swansea.

Manchester City

Real Madrid are reported to be trying to sign David Silva, and City are linked with Javi Martinez of Bilbao.

Manchester United

Michael Owen has been released.

Newcastle United

Newcastle have denied that Demba Ba is leaving, but Hatem Ben Arfa could be signed by Chelsea.


Grant Holt could be on his way to Everton.


Andy Johnson has signed from Fulham.  QPR stalwart Danny Shittu has been released.
Robert Green is said to have signed and completed his medical whilst on England duty.  Paddy Kenny has gone to Leeds.


Reading are looking to strengthen their squad with Adrian Mariappa from Watford (or Udinese B as they may soon be called), Ashley Westwood form Crewe, and Dame N'Doye of Copenhagen.


Robert Huth has signed a new contract.


Craig Gordon has been released.


Nothing to see here, following the departure of manager Brendan Rodgers.

Tottenham Hotspur

Luca Modric has left, as has Harry Redknapp.  Tottenham are currently managerless and have been linked with André Villas Boas.

West Bromwich Albion

Nicky Shorey has been released.

West Ham

West Ham have been linked with Joselu of Real Madrid.


Chris Kirkland has gone to Sheffield Wednesday on a free, and Roberto Martinez has been linked with the vacant manager's job at Tottenham.

18 June 2012

Euro 2012 | England v Ukraine France v Sweden Preview | Betting Tip

England v Ukraine 


The big news from the England camp is that the main man is back.  Wayne Rooney is available for selection in this game against the home team who will have a stadium full of fans to provide an intimidating atmosphere at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.  There has been media speculation (surprise) that Rooney may be a bit of a loose canon, having sat out two difficult games for England.  The fact is that Wayne Rooney is a more nuanced player than he once was.  Last season he received 1 red and two yellow cards, in the previous two seasons he received 8 yellow cards in each campaign.

England report no injuries, so I expect Rooney to replace Carroll.

Ukraine will enjoy home advantage in this encounter, which will be a huge boost, but England are a better team; Ukraine lost to France, with whom England drew.  Ukraine may need to play without their talismanic striker, Shevchenko, who is carrying an injury to his knee.
Whilst England will qualify with a draw, Ukraine need a win.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

England are 2.08 (21/20), which isn't great odds, but I can't decide whether there will be goals in this (probably not).

France v Sweden

France are in the lucky position of playing a team who have no possibility of qualification, wheras France need only a draw.  Doubtless Sweden will be playing for pride, and they have good players, if they are a little reliant on Ibrahimovic.
Neither team report any injuries.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

France should sweep the Swedes aside, with Nasri, who is having a good tournament and Benzema, who is yet to shine.  They have playmakers and strikers with the ability to score.  So I would back France at 1.62 (5/8).

Euro 2012 | Spain v Croatia | Italy v Ireland | Betting Tip

Spain v Croatia (The "Biscotti" Game).

You may wonder what the above refers to.  In Italian horse racing, when a horse is doped to lose a race, the doping agent is given to the horse on a biscuit, or biscotti in Italian.

Your now wondering what horse doping has to do with Spain v Croatia.  It so happens that should Spain and Croatia draw 2-2, then they go through together irrespective of the result in the other match.

Assuming that there is no collusion, and for the good of the game, let us hope that the final score is not 2-2.  Croatia will need to win this match (or draw 2-2 or higher score draw) to go through without depending on Ireland to do well against Italy.  Spain need a draw to qualify, or a win to ensure first place.

Neither team has reported any injury concerns.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

As Croatia need at least a goal to ensure qualification, this game will in all likelihood be open, which will suit Spain, so I would go for Over 2.5 Goals at 1.75 (8/11) at Betfair.  As a matter of interest, Correct Score 2-2 is ridiculously short at 12.5 (11/1), which I would avoid.

Italy v Ireland.

Ireland will want to get at least a goal here, if only to match the Netherlands dismal performance at this tournament.  It is also Damien Duff's 100th appearance.  If Ireland can avoid their now traditional early goal, then who knows what will happen.

The only injury concern is Balotelli, who has a knee injury and may be rested.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

I can only see an Italy win here at 1.43 (4/9), which doesn't seem to offer much value.  An alternative market is Over 2.5 Goals at 1.84 (5/6) at Betfair.

17 June 2012

Euro 2012 | Portugal v Netherlands Preview | Betting Tip

Portugal come into this match with a real chance of progressing; but their destiny is not entirely in their own hands.  If Germany beat Denmark, then Portugal will go through as runners-up with a win, draw or even a loss, as long as the loss is by a margin of only one goal. If Denmark draw with Germany, then Portugal are through with a win or draw.  If Denmark beat Germany, then Portugal will progress with a win, unless Denmark win with a one goal margin (other than 2-1 or 1-0).

They beat Denmark in their last match, and will need to take that momentum forward into this match.  They have a fully fit squad, and so Paulo Bento will be able to field the team he feels best suited to beating a Dutch team, which has been mis-firing.

The Netherlands can only progress if they win by a two goal margin and Denmark lose, which at least is simple.  The fly in their ointment is the fact that they have managed only one goal in 46 goal attempts over two matches.  They need, therefore to go for goals, and we can expect Huntelaar to start, possibly at the expense of Van Persie.  Huntelaar has looked disgruntled at being on the bench with Van Persie on the pitch, and Bert van Marwijk may decide to ring the changes.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

Both teams will be desperate for the win here, and, although neither team have shown themselves to be goal-scoring machines, I think that in this match, there will be goals.  Betfair have Over 1.5 goals at 1.24 (1/4), and I think that that is a nailed on certainty.  Watch this space!

16 June 2012

Euro 2012 | Greece v Russia Preview | Betting Tip

Russia, clear leaders of Group A arrive at this match in the National Stadium knowing that a win will see them winning the group and playing the runner-up from Group B.

While the BBC website is reporting that Russia have no injuries, Dick Advokaat at his press conference has confirmed that Aleksandr Kokorin has a hamstring injury ruling him out of the rest of the tournament, and Konstantin Zyryanov has an illness, which makes him doubtful for the Greece game.

For Greece, however, this is a game which they have to win in order to progress.  And they will dos without their first choice goalkeeper, Costas Chalkias, and Avraam Papadopoulis.  Sokratis Papastathopoulis returns following his one match suspension, however.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

I can only see a win for Russia here; they have played so much better than the other teams and are the only team to have a positive goal difference in the group and Over 2.5 Goals can be backed at 2.04 (21/20) at Betfair.

Euro 2012 | This much we know | 2nd Round Summary

Group A

Russia are the only team in this group to have a positive goal difference, which is a fair refection of their dominance so far.  They have to play Greece, who have been woeful in their two games thus far, and who are not going to qualify.

The czech Republic and Poland play each other, and Poland need to win this match, or else the Czech Republic and Russia will go into the quarter finals.

Group B

The so-called "group of death" has seen the death of the Netherlands.  Their shock defeat, caused entirely by profligacy of their strikers (they have had 46 goal attempts producing 1 goal over 2 games).  This has left Germany leading this group.

Germany play Denmark next, in a game which Denmark must obtain a result better than Portugal, and Portugal play the Netherlands. As these matches are played concurrently, Germany must also get at least a point from this game.

Group C

Spain are, as expected, top of this group.  The surprise is that Croatia are second, thanks to an unexpected draw with Italy and a defeat of Ireland.

By a mathematical quirk, if Spain and Croatia manage to score a 2-2 draw (or any higher score draw) then the Italians match with Ireland will be a dead rubber.

On the assumption that Italy beat Ireland, they will qualify if Spain or Croatia win.  So the chances are that Italy and Spain will qualify from this group.

Group D

The next matches in Group D will show us how good England are compared to the others in the group.  England have to play Ukraine, for whom it will be a home match.  England will need to ensure that they get a point at the very least.  If England lose, they will need to hope that France lose also.

15 June 2012

Euro 2012 | England v Sweden Preview | Betting Tip

Tony Blair, following his 1997 election victory told his more left-leaning backbench MPs not to forget that it was New Labour what won it.  By which he meant the the voters had returned New Labour, and not the old socialist Labour.

At whichever stage England leave this Euro 2012 tournament, Roy Hodgson might well echo these sentiments in a press conference.  It will have been a defensive 4-4-2 what (nearly) won it.

Although it has been widely reported that Andy Carroll will be called into the team with Oxlade-Chamberlain relegated to the bench because Sweden are rightly perceived to be fragile against high crosses and corners, I don't expect England to be very much more attack minded than in the France game.

Andy Carroll gives England a target man they missed against France, and I expect an old fashioned 'attack on the break' type of game similar to the last one, albeit looking to get round behind the Swedish defence as often as possible.  Ukraine did this with some success, as can be seen here;

Analysis by FourFourTwo Statzone [iTunes link]

One word of caution; Steven Gerrard said, a little dismissively, at yesterday's press conference, "Sweden are no France."  To which the obvious answer is "England are no France, either."  Let's hope that that comment doesn't come back to haunt him.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

England are good defensively, and have yet to score more than one goal per game under Roy Hodgson, so I expect a low scoring game which England should have the ability to win.

With that in mind I suggest England to win (Draw No Bet) at Betfair at 1.74 (8/11).

Tottenham Hotspur | Who was Spurs best manager? Redknapp

Following Harry Redknapp's surprise (to me, anyway) sacking by Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night, I thought I would have a look to see how successful he actually was as a manager.

Note that I used the term successful, as opposed to 'good.'  I am seeking not to determine the impact of Mr Redknapp  as a manager in the last 4 years, just his 'winnngness' if you like.

It is as well also to restrict analysis to the modern era.  This can be defined in many ways, but taking it to mean since the inauguration of the Premier League in season 1992-93 the table of the top 20 managers in the club's history below shows that Harry Redknapp has won 49.5% of his matches, more than any other Premiership era Tottenham manager.

Win %
 Frank Brettell
 Arthur Turner
 John Cameron
 David Pleat 
 Harry Redknapp
 Bill Nicholson
 Arthur Rowe
 Fred Kirkham
 Jimmy Anderson 
 Percy Smith
 Doug Livermore
 Ray Clemence
 Martin Jol 
 Peter Shreeves
1984–1986 & 1991–1992
 Jack Tresadern
 Peter McWilliam
1913–1927 & 1938–1942
 'The Directors'
 Joe Hulme
 Keith Burkinshaw
 Terry Venables
 Billy Minter

So why would you sack a successful manager?  The Chairman, David Levy, is said to be disappointed to have lost out on a Champions League spot.  Tottenham were 10 points clear of a guaranteed Champions League spot when the FA sacked Fabio Capello as England manager.  Immediately the media and England fans started a campaign to get Harry Redknapp installed as England manager.  According to Harry Redknapp, it was complete coincidence that this coincided with a drop in form for Tottenham.

14 June 2012

Euro 2012 | Croatia v Italy Preview | Betting Tip

Italy had a well-deserved draw against Spain in their first match and will be looking forward to a hard fought win against a Croatia who come from a relatively easy win against an out-of-sorts Ireland.

Italy have no new injury worries, and Prandelli will need to decide between starting with Balotelli, who gave an unimpressive performance against Spain.  The obvious alternative is to promote Di Natale from the bench.  Croatia looked weak at set-pieces, and Italy will hope to test them as often as possible.

Croatia may consider themselves lucky that Shay Given, the Irish keeper, had an off day in their last match, and with a fully fit squad, may like to pit two strikers against an Italy defence which many suspect is susceptible to crosses and corners.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

This is a difficult game to call.  So, being conservative, I would plump for Italy win or draw available at Bet365 for 1.33 (30/100).

13 June 2012

Premiership Rights To Be Shared Between BT and BSkyB

For the first time BT will share the rights to show Premiership matches with BSkyB from the 2013-14 season.

There will be 154 matches, an increase of 16 in the current deal, 116 of which will be broadcast by BSkyB.

The deal is worth £3.018bn, an increase of £1.25bn (approximately £14m more per club) on the current deal.

Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive, said;

"We are entering a new era with financial fair play, I'm hoping it will get invested in things other than playing talent. It should also be able to achieve sustainability," 
Good luck with that, Mr Scudamore.  I wonder who will end up paying the extra £1.25bn?

It also remains to be seen how BT will deliver the programmes.  They can be expected to push their broadband packages, but will this mean that those who do not have fast internet access available (those who live in 'not-spots') will also not have access to Premiership matches?

12 June 2012

Euro2012 | Denmark v Portugal Preview | Betting Tip

After shocking The Netherlands in their first match of the tournament, Denmark are reporting no injuries for their next match against Portugal.  Denmark are developing a habit of defeating teams which are, on paper at least, better; having already beaten Portugal three times in the previous four occasions the two teams have met.

Portugal are also injury free.  Following their much criticised defensive performance against Germany; a match which they lost,will need to win this encounter.  Their coach, Paulo Bento, said to reporters;

"There are no favourites tomorrow.  Of course, Denmark are better placed, but we'll give 100%, and having beaten them before, we can beat them again."

Betfair have other ideas.  The betting exchange has Portugal at 1.94 (20/21), and they are, man-for-man, the better team.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

My advice for this game would be to lay Portugal with the intention of backing them for higher odds soon after the game starts.

Euro2012 | Match Preview Greece v CZech | Betting Tip

The two teams stride out at the National Stadium in Warsaw this evening having had quite different encounters in their first match.

The Czech Republic will be smarting from their 4-1 defeat to Russia.  Statistically, though, the Czechs pretty well matched their Russian opponents; except, of course, in the one stat which matters, the final score.  One key difference was that the Czechs played a little higher up the pitch than Russia, as can be seen below.

Screenshots from the FourFourTwo Stats Zone App

The Greek side, however, although they managed a draw with hosts, Poland, will need to play tonight without their first choice centre halves.  Sokratis Papaastathopoulis is suspended for tonight's encounter, somewhat harshly in most people's view, and his partner, Papadopoulos, is injured.

In order to progress, both teams will want a win from this encounter.  Greece will face Russia in their last match and so will want to put 3 points in the bag tonight, but the Czech Republic could be out of the tournament if they fail to win.

Betting Tip

[The following tip is for fun only.  Gamble responsibly (if at all) and only gamble money you can afford to lose.]

These teams may well cancel each other out, but there should be goals, so I will tentatively go for a 1-1 draw, available at 7.4 (13/2) at Betfair.

If the Correct Score market is a bit rich for you the draw is currently priced at 3.3 (9/4).

Don't put your shirt on it, though.

11 June 2012

Euro 2012 | What Now For England

As a wave of small-time thievery swept England this evening, with thousands of England fans leaving their homes and pubs saying - "We'll take that," following Roy Hodgon's England team's 1-1 draw with France, the question of what this means for the England team.

The England performance was certainly at the very least, workman-like.  They were out-passed and suffered from only having 35% of possession, but defended well and kept France down to just the one goal from 21 attempts (12 of which were blocked).

As this will have been the most difficult match for Hodgson's men, playing Sweden next, followed by Ukraine, qualification from the group should be relatively straightforward.

England is available on Betfair at 1.61 (8/13), which seems like a good price.

After Sweden, there remains a more difficult encounter with Ukraine, who responded well to the home crowd's encouragement to beat Sweden 2-1.  England, however, will have Wayne Rooney available which should offer more firepower in front of goal.

German Team Bus Clamped

Dutch fans clamp German team bus in dastardly prank.

Hat-tip to offthepost

Spanish Press Reaction

The press and media in Spain are generally as jingoistic as those in any other country; especially so now that they have a world-beating football team.

AS, the sports paper whose editor famously said: "We are handsome, Spanish, Catholic, and we support Real Madrid."  So you know what you are going to get. leads with;

[A tie between two greats.  The Italy game surprised Spain who are still in the running.  Cesc Fábregas equalised after a goal by Di Natale.  Fernando Torres held the win in his boots.]

Which I agree with, apart maybe from the surprised bit.  That Italy were a good team who had the ability to frustrate Spain shouldn't have surprised too many.

El País led with.

[Spain hasn't been matched. The team equalised a goal by a good Italy (1-1) and lost its way to victory thanks to the mistake of Torres.

Game Preview France v England 11-06-12

After the Netherlands game against Denmark it would be tempting to conclude that Denmark's organisation defeated a flair team of superstars and so a relatively poor England team could win the competition.

That may be a mistake.  Denmark were not all that well organised defensively.  There were outstanding performances from the centre halves Agger and Kjær for sure, but The Netherlands were allowed 32 attempts on goal, only 5 of which were on target.  Well organised teams do not allow that many goal attempts.  The fact is that The Netherlands were profligate in front of goal and were made to pay by a team who scored with one of their 8 goal attempts.

Having said that, I think England could get a point from this match.  Roy Hodgson's teams are usually well organised defensively, and England have had quite a few days to be drilled.  Steven Gerrard made light of the expected over 30 degree temperature at yesterday's press conference, but England don't always perform well against strong teams in the heat.

France only scored 1.5 points per match in the qualifiers and only let 4 in.  They also have some significant injury concerns in Diarra, M'Vila and Matuidi, which also points to the draw being a good possibility.

10 June 2012

Game Preview: Spain v Italy

Spain are the bookies' favourites for both the competition and this match; Betfair have Spain at 1.8 (4/5).  Neither team have lost a match in the qualifiers, and they both scored more than 2 goals per match.  The only fly in Spain's ointment being he loss of their striker of choice, David Villa.

One tactical move to look for in the match can be gleaned in this quote from Prandelli:

"De Rossi is totally convinced about his ability to play centre-back," Prandelli said. "He has played there for Roma and if he had to play in this position he won't simply be a defender but a defensive midfielder. We want to use him in this position because during the match we could make tactical changes.

Italy can therefore be expected to flood the midfield to prevent Spain from playing.  As this will probably be Italy's most difficult match, I have a suspicion that it could be a low scoring affair.  Italy will be looking to get the ball to Pirlo and then on to whoever is chosen up front.  Balotelli anyone?

Injuries and Suspensions

Italy have Andrea Barzagli unavailable (he may be replaced in the squad).

Spain have no injury concerns

09 June 2012

Game Preview: Netherlands v Denmark 09-06-12

So, let's have a go at previewing a match.

The so-called "Group of Death"kicks off today and the first match is Netherlands v Denmark.

Injuries and Suspensions

Netherlands are nailed on favourites for this.  Betfair have them at 1.79 (4/5 for traditionalists) at the time of writing, but rising.  They will be missing Mathijsen with a hamstring injury, but should still brush Denmark aside.

Denmark, on the other hand, will have to replace midfielder Niki Zimling (probably with Christian Poulsen according to FourFourTwo.com).

The Story So Far

The Netherlands scored more goals than any other team in their qualification campaign, but this includes 16 goals scored against San Marino.They also fired 6 goals against Northern Ireland in a recent friendly.
They have only made seven changes to their 2010 World Cup Final squad.

Denmark, while no push-over, can be expected to sit back and soak up the pressure and hope that Christian Eriksen, one of Europe's most sought-after young midfielders, is able to supply quality service to Nicklas Bendtner.  They didn't exactly set the world on fire in their qualifiers, scoring only 15 goals in total, and are unlikely to qualify from his group, however well organised they are.

Pavlyuchenko in 4D

Pavlyuchenko scores in the 83rd minute against Petr Cech "re-engineered in 4D" by Marca.
A bit like Tottenham v Chelsea, except that Cech would have made the save if Pav had been playing for Tottenham

Russian fans beat up stadium workers in Warsaw

Russian fans beat up stadium workers in Warsaw
Not all news is good news from Euro 2012

Euro 2012 Golden Boot

Who will win the Golden Boot in this year's Euros?

I guess there are three main contenders and several good outsiders.  One thing is almost certain, though.  It will be close. Aside from the fact that there are several contenders, the last time the winner of the Golden Boot scored more than 5 goals in the Euros was way back in 1984 (Michel Platini, whose main task these days is sitting in the stand looking grumpy scored a perfect 9 - 3 with his left, 3 with his right, and 3 with his head).

So the top three contenders would be Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich) and Robin Van Persie (Arsenal).  If I had to pick one, it would have to be Van Persie.  Benzema plays for France, who, though they are favourites to qualify from their group, I don't fancy to go all the way.  I think Gomez probably has too much competition from a German team I think might win the tournament.  Van Persie, on the other hand, is an outstanding striker, in a team who will surely reach the semi-finals.  Although he is surrounded by talented players (in particular Huntelaar) he has had a fabulous season with Arsenal this year.

If I was going to tip an outsider for Golden Boot, how about Poland's Lewandowski?  Bundesliga winner with Borussia Dortmund, he is one of the players who could score a few goals even if Poland do not qualify.

Who knows?

08 June 2012

The Euros Are Here

I thought I would start this first post of my new football blog with my prediction for the outright winner of the Euro 2012 Championship.

There are probably four main contenders; Spain, Germany, Netherlands, and France.  So, in time honoured fashion, in reverse order, here's my prediction.


As we will hear a hundred times between now and their first match - against the mighty? England - France have not lost a match in their last 21.  They are, like England, massive under-achievers in international competitions though, but have a host of good, if under-rated, players.  I guess the likes of Karim Benzema of Real Madrid will be a possible Golden Boot winner if France qualify from the group.

They are also solid at the back, and Yann M'Vila of Rennes, who will probably be in the Premiership next season, is possibly one of the top 10 holding midfielders in the world.  Let's hope he gets a game, as he comes into the competition carrying a slight injury.


Holland have won every qualifying game except against Sweden on their way to the Euros.  They scored 37 goals in the qualifiers, which is a remarkable achievement, but includes 16 against San Marino.

They have two good goalscoring machines in Robin Van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, and have a couple of good centre-backs but they are one of the more mercurial teams of the tournament, so it will be interesting to see their first match on Saturday against their neighbors, Denmark.


Who doesn't like watching Spain?  They come as World and Euro champions, looking to be the first team to win back-to-back Euro Championships and the first team to win three major championships on the bounce.  So there is a high level of expectation resting on the shoulders of the current holders.  They are also without their talismanic striker David Villa

Their tiki-taka style has been widely studied and I think that the savvy teams have worked out how to play against them now.  Being solid and organised will count for a lot against the free-playing Iberians. Who can forget how Chelsea bested Barcelona and Bayern Munich by soaking up the pressure and counter-attacking.

Spain play a predictable game lacking in width, and their squad is fairly unchanged from the team who were taken to the wire by Germany two years ago.


The Germans are my tip for the Euros this time round.  They have won all of their qualifiers and have scored for fun.  The young squad is largely unchanged from 2010 and are improving all the time.  They have remarkable strength in depth.  Like Spain, the coach hasn't had to decide who to bring to Poland-Ukraine, he has had to decide who to to bring.

The tam is energetic and mobile and the players know each other well