May 21, 2013
Posted: 1606 GMT
Let’s face it, if I could predict the future I would not be working as a sports journalist. Considering all the money I could make foretelling events in the coming days, weeks, months and years to come I would ideally work less than a sloth on strike. Clearly then, this is not a superpower I possess. However, though I can’t tell you exactly what will occur in this weekend’s UEFA Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, I can make an informed guess; so that is what I am going to do.
So let’s start with the score. I think Bayern will beat their Bundesliga rivals 2-1 so it will be the Bavarians celebrating their fifth European Crown when the dust settles at Wembley on Saturday night.
Bayern will win because they have been the best team in the competition: simple. They have won nine of their 12 games, have scored more goals and conceded less than any other side. They have shown they can dominate games by hogging most of the possession while also being effective as a counter-attacking team against Barcelona. This is a well-oiled machine, which plays to its strengths and seems to score at will against any opposition.
The key to Bayern’s success this season has been their wing play. Most of their attacks are conducted down both wings and they rely on deadly combinations between the full backs and wingers to create two-on-one situations around the opposition’s box. We all know Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben create goal-scoring chances, but what full backs Phillip Lahm and David Alaba have done is quite extraordinary. They combine for six assists in 12 Champions League games this season.
May 1, 2013
Posted: 1600 GMT
No sooner had the final whistle blown on the semifinal victory by Borussia Dortmund over Real Madrid, than speculation swiftly turned to whether this was also the final whistle on Jose Mourinho’s career at the helm of the Spanish giants.
Never one to miss a trick in tantalising the press, the self-dubbed "Special One" shaped the narrative of the media response to the defeat by suggesting in post-match interviews that he “might not be” in charge of Los Meringues next season.
“England,” he stated, “is where I know … I am loved. I know I am loved by some clubs, especially one.” Read the rest of this entry »
April 22, 2013
Posted: 1611 GMT
March 12, 2013
Posted: 1633 GMT
Almost since its inception, the English Premier League has been lauded by many as the world’s greatest football division. Its mix of history, big-club glamor, international superstars, explosive on-pitch action and passionate fan support have combined to create a product that has fans in Singapore and Sao Paulo salivating as much as those in Salford, Manchester.
However, proving which nation has the strongest top league on Planet Earth is a tricky task; there are so many factors on which to grade them. Whether it’s average attendance at games, money spent on players, the rate of big teams losing to small, goals per game, the ratio of Brazilians per club or whether the Beckham family can be found on the terrace, the options and methods with which to rank such leagues are as endless as the time it takes to decide a new Pope.
Shining like a beacon of truth in this sea of confusion and befuddlement is the European Champions League, a competition whose allure and pedigree stands above all others in world soccer. It’s the elite club competition that has billionaire team owners, the smartest of tactician-managers and the world’s finest footballers straining every sinew to win. Read the rest of this entry »
November 19, 2012
Posted: 1119 GMT
The 2012 Formula One season may yet have delivered the new drivers' champion, but even before the world's fastest racing cars finish their cylinder-driven samba around the Interlagos Circuit in Sao Paulo next week we can be certain of one fact ... the new champion will be crowned an all-time great along with this year's best.
Both Germany's Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso of Spain are used to superlatives from motor racing commentators: they are both exceptionally talented and boast back-to-back double-champion pedigree.
And as the two sole pilots left in the hunt to finish top of this year's grid, they also both stand on the edge of joining an elite members' club. Read the rest of this entry »
July 28, 2012
Posted: 2217 GMT
Michael Phelps can claim to be the greatest swimmer of all-time for the following reasons:
- In 2008, he performed one of the greatest feats in Olympic history by winning eight gold medals from eight events in the pool
And at the age of 27, the man known as the Baltimore Bullet and the Flying Fish, was primed to add clear water to any pretenders to the throne by netting a further seven golds to his burgeoning spoils of water-based combat at the London Games. The scene was set for history to once again be rewritten and to add to the spectacle Phelps would need to conquer one of the greatest rivalries in sport, on the greatest of stages, to take glory. Read the rest of this entry »
July 2, 2012
Posted: 1036 GMT
The spine still tingles. The sight of Vicente Del Bosque's team of torero's teasing and tormenting an Italian side, whose honest application should have made such subjugation subject to penalty on the grounds of cruelty, was as devastating a show of technical prowess and collective intuitiveness as you're ever likely to see during your time on planet earth.
The superlatives have long been exhausted and the cliches are too simplistic to capture the audacity of winning the European Championship, arguably the hardest competition in international football, by four clear goals against an Azzurri side bestowed with its own array of experienced superstars.
April 27, 2012
Posted: 1236 GMT
The news had been rumored and speculated upon for weeks within informed circles of the Spanish press, but the reality of Josep "Pep" Guardiola confirming his decision to leave Barcelona is a blow that no amount of advanced warning will soften for the millions of fans who follow the Catalan club around the world.
It says something of the standards the 41-year-old set at the Camp Nou that being knocked out of the semifinals of the European Champions League – a result that relinquished Barca's grip on the continental title – and a defeat to arch-rivals Real Madrid which all but ended a compelling fight for the Spanish crown, were deemed failure enough for his trophy-laden tenure to come to an end. Read the rest of this entry »
December 21, 2011
Posted: 1309 GMT
The ruling by the Football Association to ban Liverpool and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for eight matches and to fine him $63,000 for racial abuse has proved controversial for a number of reasons.
It is the first time the governing body of English football has disciplined a player on such terms, a move that has been welcomed by many in the game as tangible evidence that talk of "kicking racism out of football" has some teeth. Read the rest of this entry »
November 2, 2011
Posted: 1353 GMT
Football stadiums can be more than just arenas for the many who frequent the stands to watch their team. Like a church for believers of the faith, supporters flock to the communal ground of the terrace to cheer on the side, reaffirm identity with their "tribe" and to bond with their brothers in arms through shared experience and song.
The sight of individuals acting as a collective is as awe-inspiring in 2011 as one imagines it was in the Coliseum in Ancient Rome; when 10,000 souls sing in unison it is hard – nigh on impossible - not to be affected.
It is why sport, and football in particular, creates such a compelling spectacle for television - the drama on the pitch and the reaction of the crowd spilling forth from the screen to corrupt and convert the viewer, who may well be on the other side of the planet but can no longer ignore the significance of the event. Read the rest of this entry »