With the wheeling and dealing of football's transfer deadline day in full swing, Europe's top clubs have the last chance to strengthen their squads for the challenges ahead.
But with the stakes high, an ill-timed gamble in an inflated transfer market can lead to a downturn in a team's fortunes and it's significant that the real giants of club football – the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United – rarely make permanent signings in mid-season. FULL POST
To be the best you’ve got to beat the best, so the saying goes. But in professional boxing it seems to be the best you’ve only got to avoid the best.
There is no doubt that the Klitschko brothers are two of the biggest attractions in boxing right now. Wladimir holds the IBF and WBO heavyweight crowns, while Vitali is the WBC belt holder.
Each lays claim to being the world’s best heavyweight, though they will never fight each other to answer the question once and for all. That’s understandable, as fighting is obviously a hurting game and the fight would be a sham, because who wants to hurt their own flesh and blood?
It was a difficult time heading into the tournament. Everyone was in shock with the floods up in Queensland, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. It’s happened before, many years ago, but it’s been all over the news non-stop, so the Australian Open has certainly been a distraction. With the floods and losing the Ashes cricket, we were very happy to get the tennis under way!
Before play started, I had the belief that Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were closing the gap on the top two, there’s no doubt about that. They were improving and they were working on their game.
When Justine Henin announcement her return to tennis at the end of 2009, I, like most tennis fans was delighted. The Belgian’s game is simply poetry in motion and so dramatically different from that of the current crop, with only few exceptions.
In her prime, she showed size didn’t really matter and - unlike players such as Martina Hingis - she was able to challenge the "big babes." It was refreshing to see that women’s tennis could be about more than just booming ground-strokes. She was the player who made me want to watch.
Kim Clijsters showed that you could return a champion after a lay-off from the game when she clinched her second U.S. Open title in 2009, so when Justine reached the Australian Open final in 2010 it seemed that women’s tennis was returning to a golden age.
As the semifinal line up at the Australian Open takes shape, I've taken a look back over the first week of the Melbourne Park tournament to pick my top ten moments of the event so far.
Fernando Verdasco of Spain against Janko Tipsarevic was one of the highlights of the opening week in Melbourne, even if the Serb tanked the deciding set. World number 49 Tipsarevic played some great tennis and had three match points as he looked to cause the biggest upset of the men’s second round. Somehow the struggling ninth seed Verdasco managed to save them all before winning 6-0 in the fifth.
Though world number one Rafael Nadal scored a straight-sets victory against Bernard Tomic, the Australian made it a very interesting third round encounter. The 18-year-old Tomic made nine-time grand slam winner Nadal work hard for the first time in the tournament. The youngster has a unique game and an abundance of confidence and, unlike so many, he did not seem particularly overawed as he battled the Spaniard in the Rod Laver Arena. It was a fun match to watch and a good test for Nadal, who passed with flying colors.
As I watched Japan beat Qatar in an exciting quarterfinal at the Asian Cup, I wondered if a team from this confederation could ever win the World Cup. My first thought was “definitely not,” but considering the 2022 tournament is taking place in the region, will AFC nations have more motivation to improve their infrastructure and coaching in order to shine in 11 years' time?
As you probably know, only one Asian nation has ever made the semifinals of soccer's top international event, South Korea in 2002. Now, as well as the Red Devils played, they had the advantage of home support and benefited from some fortuitous refereeing decisions in the matches against Spain and Italy.
Even so, their achievement made many pundits believe a bridgehead had been established for the region’s football teams to mount regular assaults on the latter stages of FIFA’s flagship event. A hope that has sadly remained unfulfilled. In 2006, only Australia made it past the group phase before losing to Italy, while last year Japan and South Korea were dispatched in the round of 16 in South Africa.
LeBron James was crowned “King James” before he ever stepped foot on an NBA court. He then proceeded to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to pastures much greener than any they’d experienced in their 40-year history.
That included two of the franchise’s three division championships and their only NBA Finals appearance. But in seven seasons with the Cavs, “King James” failed to bring home a championship.
What followed has become the biggest soap opera in recent NBA memory. His much publicized divorce from the Cavs last summer changed his image from a do-no-wrong highlight reel to a vilified figure that chose to share the pressure of winning with the Heat’s Dwayne Wade.
In my opinion, England's Premier League is in crisis. The top flight division has lost its status as the best league in the world. It has fallen behind Spain and could soon drop below Germany’s Bundesliga as well.
Recently, at the FIFA Ballon D’Or gala, the FIFPro World XI was announced. This dream team was picked by close to 50 thousand professional players. It featured eight players from the Spain's La Liga and three from Italy’s Serie A. Not a single footballer plied his trade in England.
So was it just a bad year for English football? You could say that, but I believe it would be closer to the truth to see it as a chink in the once formidable armor of the league that has called itself the best in the world. An empire could be crumbling.
As you may have seen on CNN recently, FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, joined the debate on which is the best league in the world when he told my colleague, Pedro Pinto, that Spain must hold that unofficial title because it provided the most players for the FIFA team of the year and because Spain won the World Cup with home-based players.
He further indicated that while the English Premier League is the best marketed league in the world, it does not, in his opinion, have the best players or play the best football.
Millions of football fans will be happy to agree with Blatter’s assessment, and millions more will disagree. However, the fact is that, at present, we have no quantifiable way of knowing which league is the best.
It’s all conjecture based on subjectivity or, in the case of choosing the FIFA XI, pseudo statistics since the make-up of the team was arrived at by way of a vote not any kind empirical data.
But, like the other three slams, the All England Championship has its pros and cons, which differ depending on whom you speak to.
The biggest con of the player and fan-friendly Australian Open, in my opinion, is definitely the timing of the tournament. FULL POST