“A lack of respect for the world we live in.”
That was the damning assessment Barcelona head coach Gerardo Martino had for the widely-expected transfer of Wales star Gareth Bale to his side’s archrivals Real Madrid.
As manager of one of Spain’s two footballing giants his role almost dictates that verbal provocation is aimed west to the capital, but it’s not just the Catalan faithful who would have been sympathetic to the Argentine’s rhetoric. FULL POST
Transfer windows have become an integral part of the modern football landscape.
The season may end when the fixtures run out, but the soap opera continues as the on-pitch drama of the most global of sports is replaced by the intrigue and chicanery of player purchase and trading.
Each year the price tags go up as the deals go down, and the media makes ever more hay from the speculation and subterfuge that surrounds the transactions. FULL POST
The wait is over. Soccer devotees across Europe, strung out during the off season with only the scraps of transfer rumors and player sales to keep them sated, can now quench the pang of their addiction with weekly hits of league football.
The German Bundesliga returned on August 9 with Bayern beating Borussia Monchengladbach, France's Ligue 1 saw nouveau riche champions PSG held by Montpellier on the same day, while Italy's Serie A gets going on August 24. The two remaining elite divisions of Spain and England kick off this weekend.
There have been many managerial moves since May but the English Premier League has seen a fascinating shuffling of characters that now hold the reins at a clutch of the world’s biggest clubs. FULL POST
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.
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.” FULL POST
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. FULL POST
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. FULL POST
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
– He has set 29 individual world records, which is in itself a record
– He is the most successful swimmer in World Championships history boasting a haul of 26 gold medals
– And his success has transcended and changed his sport
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. FULL POST