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Happy New Year from Play the Advantage

Friday, December 31, 2010

Play the Advantage would like to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year. We hope you enjoy the new year with your families an friends and we look forwards to bringing you the latest in football in the new year.

All the Best

Play the Advantage

Super Mario Balotelli proves his worth in Manchester

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Young Italian superstar Mario Balotelli has scored three goals in City's 4-0 win against Aston Villa. Balotelli is yet to prove his 22 million dollar worth in Manchester, after his public outbursts, controversial transfer comments and arguments with team mates in training. Although with Carlos Tevez out injured the Italian got his chance to shine, and did that he did. Aston Villa provided no match for the Eastlanders who help their title contentions with their solid performance. Although an uninspired Villa performance saw them slip further down the table in what has been a far from satisfactory season.

Mancini suggested that Balotelli was happy at City, which crushed his recent comments about his playing future and Ac Milan. Mancini went on to say that the fans are behind Balotelli and that he is a key part of the squad going forward. Balotelli was named man of the match against Villa and will hope to gain another starting position in City's game next week.

English Premier League Round 19 - Arsenal vs Chelsea - Review

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chelsea continue their downward spiral in the Premier League, after a disasterous performance against a stunning Arsenal team. The Gunners scored three goals including two in the space of two minutes to put the games beyond doubt.

The round 19 clash was the most anticipated of the round. Arsenal were looking to prevent history from being made, as they were on a three game losing streak at home. A fourth loss would see the Gunners equal an embarrassing twenty year record. Chelsea on the other hand had poor form of their own to contend with. Pre the Christmas break Ancelotti's men performed attrociously, seeing them drop down the table and out of contact with new leaders, Manchester United.

the first half saw an even affair. Drogba had the early opportunity to put his team ahead. The Ivorian had scored a staggering 14 goals in 11 matches against Arsenal, and his early showing looked to see him continue his rampart scoring run. Arsenal attacked through Nasri and Van Persie - Who got the nod upfront instead of Chamakh. Their persistance soon proved effective as Arsenal took the lead late in the first half. Alex Song knocked in the ball past Cech after a goalmouth scramble. Arsenal went into the break one up on Chelsea.

Things were about to get a whole lot worse for Chelsea, who came into the match as favourties. Arsenal came out blazing, intending not to hold back, quickly their fast paced attacks turned into goals. First through Fabregas with his clinical finish, then through Theo Walcott who outpaced the Chelsea defence on the counter attack to slot the ball - once again - beyond the reach of Cech.

A demoralised Chelsea looked to slip up yet again, but after some inspirational words from captain Lampard immediately struck back through an Ivanovic header, after a driven free kick. Arsenal went on to dominate play and see out the match 3-1, to put themselves back into the title race, behind United and now infront of City.

Final Score:      Arsenal 3                -            Chelsea 1
                             Song 44                                  Ivanovic 57
                             Fabregas 51
                             Walcott 53

Man of the Match - Theo Walcott (Arsenal)

Leonardo handed the reigns at Inter

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The worst kept secret in European football has been announced, as Inter look to recover from a disasterous start to the 2010/2011 installment of the Italian Serie A.

Former Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez was shown the door last week as Massimo Moratti (Inter Club President) confirmed that he had lost the trust of the players and the board alike. Benitez who had complained on numerous occasions that the transfer funds made avaliable to him at the start of the season were insufficient to cater for a big name signing, had threatened to quit mid way through the first half of the season.

New coach Leonardo, formerly coach of Ac Milan across town, has already stated his claims, saying that he will aim to make a number of big name signings during his time and especially during the approaching January transfer window.

After finishing third in the Serie A last year with Milan Leonardo will look to steer Inter to another title, although his former team Milan will do everything to stop him from continuing Inter's run of successive titles.

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Transfers, Transfers, Transfers - Tevez, Dzeko and Cassano look to be on the move

Monday, December 27, 2010

The January transfer window is fast approaching and many big names look to be on the move, we have a look at some of the big names and some of their possible destinations.

Carlos Tevez: The Argentinian has expressed his want to play elsewhere, but City will not let up. Big name clubs from around the World have expressed their desire to have "Carlitos" play in their colours. Real Madrid lead the charge as they face injury woes up front as well as the possibility of letting their French striker Benzema leave after a recent spell of poor form, in truth Karim has failed to impress in Madrid.

Tevez has also been linked with an unlikely move to Inter who are looking to re-invent their squad under Leonardo. Although Tevez has stated that he was not interested in such a move. Considering the Argentine threatened to retire, it would n't be a surprise if he ended up playing in his home country or in the various South American leagues.

Edin Dzeko: Wolfsburg have held onto the Bosnian hitman for a number of seasons now, rejecting a number of high profile bids. The striker has been prolific yet again in the Bundesliga scoring nine goals thus far. Although with Liverpool recently entering the racfe to sign the Bosnian Wolfsburg may be tempted to sell. a 40 million dollar price tag has certainly turned away many clubs, but Juventus and Bayern Munich still stay in the hunt. Premier League interest from Manchester United is also a factor and the Red Devils may swoop and take the striker to Old Trafford.

Antonio Cassano: Rumours already exist about Cassano and where his playing future lies. The Italian international left from Sampdoria and became a free agent when he had a falling out with the club. Milan's apparant signing of the Striker came with Massimo Moratti of Inter saying that Inter too have made an offer for the frontman. One thing is for certain Cassano will continue to apply his trade in Italy. Juventus is also a possible destination for Cassano. A reuniting with former manager and club sporting director would definitely be welcome by a player who can easily loose his temper and upset team chemistry.

Three big names look set to move on this January window. We will also look at the three best signings at the halfway point of the season soon.

English Premier League Round 19 - Arsenal vs Chelsea - Preview

Sunday, December 26, 2010

After a short break the Premier League returns and with it some blockbuster matches. Arsenal an Chelsea, high fliers on the table both looking to catch the elusive Manchester United.

Arsenal come into the match with a very poor home form, currently the gunners have lost three consecutive games at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger has been criticized of recent as his team has not put up a fight against the big guns of the Premier League including their recent losses against Tottenham and Manchester United. The return of Fabregas in recent weeks has brought back some leadership upfront helping the Gunners get back to their scoring ways.

Chelsea will want to return to their winning form found at the start of the season. The blues have been out of form and will hope that the return of their captain to the starting team will boost morale. Both teams have had little to no match time over the past few weeks - mainly due to the weather.

Arsenal Team News: The Gunners still have a list of injuries including Vermaleen, Gibbs and Almunia. Arsenal will be boosted by the likely return of Diaby and the return of Fabregas from their respective injuries. Fabianski's return from injury will see him once again take over the reigns in goal, over youngster Sczcesny who had a brilliant match against United, making a number of stunning saves.

Chelsea Team News: The fact that Drogba and Lampard will both start this match together will be a massive boost to Chelsea, who have offered little upfront in the recent weeks. Both players were instrumental in sparking Chelsea's rampant run at the start of the season. Alex, Zhirkov and Benayoun are out through long term injury. Bonsingwa will be given till kickoff to prove his fitness after sustaining an injury after the Tottenham match.

The game is the most anticipated match of the week and it should live up to it's expectations of a tight affair. Chelsea will play aggresively with the return of Lampard and Drogba, but Arsenal will be more desperate to ensure they do not break their record of four losses in a row at home.

Match Prediction: Arsenal 2 - Chelsea 1

Merry Christmas from Play the Advantage

Saturday, December 25, 2010

To all our readers across the globe we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas, we hope you all enjoy the time with your families and friends.

All the Best

Play the Advantage

Player of the Week - Edinson Cavani (Napoli)

Friday, December 24, 2010

It hasn’t been to long since Napoli F.C’s new signing, Edinson Cavani, arrived at the club. He has had a tremendous impact at Napoli and keeps raising the club’s hopes of a number one finish in the Serie A over Italian giants Juventus, AC Milan and Internazionale.

Edinson Cavani has been the catalyst of Napoli’s turn around to the new season. It has been nearly twenty years since Napoli had finished in the top three and now it is looking good for the sky blues which now sits in second - one win away from catching Milan.

Cavani carries ten goals to his name in his first season at Napoli alongside Antonio Di Natale (Udinese) both leading the Serie A top goalscorers list. Cavani won Napoli's last game against Lecce with a superb effort in the 90th minute which saw him score one of the best goals in the Serie A 2010/2011 to date.

His performances in the 2010 World Cup were also very strong, scoring on several occasions for the Uruguayan national team. It was made more difficult for him to perform as he was up agains World Class players and teams.

This was further justified as he said;

“they closed down the spaces well and made it hard for us to play our game. This was a deserved victory as we kept plugging away right to the death and never gave in.”

Cavani has caught the eye of bigger clubs in Europe including the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea. The striker certainly has made his mark on the Serie A this year and will look to finish strongly with Napoli in the league.

Check out Cavani's stunning winner against Lecce:


Written by Pedro Cuccovillo - A Facebook follower

Spanish La Liga, has it become too uncompetitive?

During the Christmas break we take time to evaluate how each of the several leagues across Europe and the world have faired both competitively and financially. The first league we take a look at is Spain's premier league the La Liga. The La Liga is rated by FIFA as the second most successful league in the world after the English Premier League. However, in recent times the league has come under much pressure to offer something new both in terms of marketing and football.

One of the biggest problems in the La Liga is that the league has seemingly divided itself - overtime - into four different tiers.
One tier is played between Barcelona and Real Madrid to win the title.
Just under them is the second tier which consists of Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal, fighting for places in the champions league and the Europa league.
The third tier varies, but usually consists of teams like Atletico Bilbao, Espanyol, Getafe and Deportivo la Coruna, who are quite happy to stay out of trouble, but still play to achieve that elusive Europa League spot.
The fourth tier, of course is that between the teams trying to avoid relegation. Although the quality of the teams do not match those in the "first tier" the competition between these teams is quite exhilarating especially towards the end of the season.

These "tiers" or leagues are divided greatly by the level of football acustomed to each of the clubs. One big example of this was the recent match between Real Madrid and Levante - a team just sitting above relegation-  in the Spanish Cup , the 8-0 victory to Madrid including two hattricks to both Benzema and Ronaldo shows the difference in footballing ability between the two clubs. 
The fact that Madrid and Barcelona are always increasing the gap between all the tiers below them - mainly for money. Shows that the La Liga is bound to become more uncompetitive unless the influence of lesser known clubs becomes greater. Through both transfers and media publicity. Although everything is possible with newly promoted club Hercules putting up stiff challenges against Barcelona (1-0 Victory) and Real Madrid.

By Isidoro Munoz Mendoza our Spanish Correspondant
(Born in the Bernabeu) - Facebook follower

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Play the Advantage is looking for people to contribute to our blog with articles and other content. It can be anything football related. We will post your thoughts, pictures and videos ect...

Anyone Interested please send your articles to


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Player of the First Half of the Season - Nominees

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This season a few suprise names have thrust themselves onto the world stage. Each of the Five major leagues around the world (England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France) have been influenced by the skill and consistency of one or another player. It's time to vote for your player of the half season. The nominees are (three from each league):

English Premier League:

Samir Nasri (Arsenal) - The Arsenal attacking midfielder has been prolific infront of goal. This season he has knotched up 17 goals this season in all competitions. The Frenchman has certainly proved his worth at the Emirates.

Gareth Bale (Tottenham) - Tottenham have certainly established themselves towards the top of the league, winger Gareth Bale has been instrumental in leading his team to victory on a number of occasions, his pace and shooting ability has made him one of the most feared wingers in Europe.

Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United) - United sit pretty at the top of the table with two matches in hand. They remain one of the hardest teams in the EPL to beat with no losses in the league this year. Their defence has been second to none and rock solid centre back Vidic has been instrumental in securing cleansheets and sometimes scoring goals.

Spanish Premiera Division

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) - What more can be said about the Portugese hitman. CR9 has been key in many of Real's victories, scoring his way to the top of the goal scorers list in La Liga. Ronaldo will be looking to lead Mourinho's men to a title.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - The Barcelona man has been in phenomenal form of recent orchestrating their 5-0 win against Madrid as well as scoring a total of 17 goals in the league equalling Ronaldo's total at the top. Barcelona sit in first place in La Liga.

Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal) - The Italian striker goes largely unnoticed amongst the big strikers at Barcelona and Real Madrid, but Rossi has been prolific for Villarreal scoring 9 goals domestically and five in the Europa League. With Villarreal pushing for a Champions League spot Rossi will have to continue to show his good form.

Italian Serie A

Milos Krasic (Juventus) - With Juventus looking for a revival in 2010 they spent up big in the transfer season, bringing Serbian winger Milos Krasic to Juventus. The Serbian delivered scoring a number of goals and providing a number of assists to put Juventus into second place just behind Ac Milan. His hattrick against.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Ac Milan) - The big money load deal was labelled as a "waste" at the start of the year. However Ibra's season has been far from that, guiding Milan to the top of the League, whilst also scoring nine goals in the process.

Edison Cavani (Napoli) - What a year it's been for the young Uruguayan. Coming to Napoli on load the striker has certainly made an impact, reaching a tally of ten for the year to put him equal top scorer in the Italian Serie A. He has also been effective in the Europa League scoring seven times in eight appearances.

German Bundesliga

Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund) - Sahin has been crucial in Dortmunds German campaign thus far. He distributes the football precisely. He wins back possession as well as moves forward in attack always ensuring he is open for a pass. Sahin has been the playmaker behind six goals as well as scoring four himself. He has proved that he will be a key player in the Turkish national team.

Manuel Neuer (Schalke) - The Schalke shot stopper has been the shining light in a Schalke team that has played far beyond their expectations this year. The German number one has certainly caught the eye of bigger clubs this year through his excellent saves.

Theofanis Gekas (Frankfurt) - The Bundesliga top scorer has established himself as a top class striker with 14 goals in the campaign thus far. The greek international has been the reason behind Frankfurt's good performances this season.

Ligue 1

Yohan Gourcuff (Lyon) - The Frenchman's move to Lyon was much publicised for the reason he left from rivals Borduex. Although Gourcuff has replicated the form that made him one of the most feared playmakers in Europe helping Lyon to move within one point of leaders Lille.

Nene (PSG) - The PSG man boasts the title of top scorer in Ligue one. He has been the difference for his team in many of the big matches during the season including bagging the winners against Valenciennes. He also gained an assist in the winning goal to help his team overcome Marseille.

Benoit Tremoulinas (Bordeaux) - The defender made his name in Europe this year. The left back who is still yet to apply his trade for the national team. He is crucial in going forward providing an added threat with every attack.

Comment with your choice of player, the winning player will be revealed soon along with an indepth article on his impact on his team throughout the first half of the year.

English Premier League Round 18 - Manchester City vs Everton - Review

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Everton came out of the blocks early as they secured a 2-1 victory against Manchester City, preventing the Eastlanders from going top of the table over the Christmas break. It was Australia's Tim Cahill who put the Toffee's infront in just the fourth minute. He got on the end of a Seamus Coleman cross to score once again with his head. The goal moves him to nine for the season putting him in fourth place on the top scorers list.

Manchester City went on to dominate possession constantly bombarding the Everton defence with long balls from Yaya Toure and runs by David Silva. Although it was Everton once again who would go on to score. This time Chaill turning scorer to provider as he set up Baines with a layoff allowing the defender to beating Joe Hart at the far post.

Tim Howard was having an inspired game as he continued to make some unbelievable saves to ensure City did not strike before half time, including a diving save from a driven Kolarov free kick. Carlos Tevez had been un-troubling upfront failing to find his scoring form, preventing City from getting a goal before the break.

The Second half saw Mancini change tactics, bringing on Adam Johnson, who had been instrumental in their draw with Juventus midweek. Johnson cause trouble down the flanks as he continued to feed balls into the Everton penalty area. Early in the second half City were given hope of restoring parity when Victor Anichebe was shown his second yellow card. From here Manchester City pressed on and were eventually rewarded in the 72nd minute when Johnson once again broke into the box, making way for Yaya Toure shot which heavily defelected off Phil Jagielka, which resulted in a breakthrough for City.

The goal looked to have brought about a new City as each successive attack came close to an equaliser. First through a Baotelli effort the bounced of the post, then through the rebound which saw Tevez almost slide the ball into the net, if it wasn't for another brilliant save by Howard. The more and more city pressed the more impressive Howard's reactions were going on to once again deny Tevez from close range.

Towards the final whistle City's hope of an equaliser took a blow when Kolo Toure was also sent off following a second yellow. Mancini's side will know that the game was a missed opportunity as the comprehensively dominated possession but were denied by a desperate Everton side led by Tim Howard's heroics in goal.

Final Score - Manchester City 1        Everton  2
                      Jagielka(og) 72            Cahill 4
                                                           Baines 19

Man of the Match : Tim Howard (Everton)

Technorati Claim : 

English Premier League Round 18 - Manchester City vs Everton - Preview

Monday, December 20, 2010

The last game of the Premier League before the Christmas break proves to be one of the only games in the league this week as snow has postponed all but two of the games so far. Manchester City are flying high towards the top of the league and a win against Everton will see them move to the top of the Premier League over the Christmas break, although with Manchester and Arsenal sitting just behind both with games in hand.
Everton on the other hand will be trying to move clear of relegation, this year experiencing a less than satisfying season which has put pressure on players and staff alike.

During the week City has experienced much unwanted media attention after Carlos Tevez announced his desire to leave Eastlands. Mancini has called City fans not to boo the captain on the pitch as they still reatain hope of keeping the star strker.
Everton will be hoping that their good record of recent against City will continue. The toffee's have won their lost three visits to Eastlands although injury concerns and poor form will make their job all the more difficult.

Manchester City Team News: Adebayor is in serious doubt with a calf injury, while Nigel de Jong is once again suspended for City. Admist much the controversy of the past week Tevez is likely to get the start upfront, with Yaya Toure, Silva and Milner in behind the Argentinian.

Everton Team News: Everton officials will be sweating on the fitness of Pienaar who has a serious ankle injury, midfielder has been key to many of Everton's wins this year and he will be given until kickoff to prove his fitness, although unlikely. Hetinga is also in doubt but a return of Hibbert may be and option to replace the defender.

The cold weather will most likely see a less physical encounter and many ball controlling errors. City will be desperate to take top spot, which will surely give them a morale boost and maybe help them hold on to their captain. Everton will put up a worthy fight but in the end City should comfortably defeat the Toffees.

Match Prediction: Manchester City 3   -   Everton 1

What do you think? Comment with your prediction, those with correct predictions will have their chance to feature in the English blog next week.

Spanish Premiera Round 16 - Real Madrid vs Sevilla - Review

Real Madrid has unconvincingly pulled off a narrow 1-0 victory at home to Sevilla. A crucial 77th minute strike from Angel Di Maria, the man Los Blancos signed from Benfica for $25 million, proved to be all that separated the two sides in what can only be described as an ill-tempered encounter that saw two red cards being handed out.

In recent times, this fixture has been characterised by high-scoring games, however this particular meeting proved to present very few goal scoring opportunities for either squad, particularly in the first half. Karim Benzema, a player under pressure to impress his employers, had a fruitless match which resulted in nothing more than a near miss in the first half which truly highlighted his now apparent lack of confidence. Los Blancos’ best chances came from two near identical free kicks from Cristiano Ronaldo, who showed his skill to nearly slot home past Andres Palop.

Sevilla also had their fair share of opportunities in the first half, however like Madrid, they did not seem adventurous or willing to break the deadlock. The visiting team continued to threaten the Madrid defence down the wings and an Escude header from a Capel cross drifted just wide of the Casillas goalpost in the 23th minute. Madrid defender Carvalho was lucky not to be given his marching orders when he pulled down Negredo towards the end of the first half. The resultant free kick was drilled at Casillas by Romaric, but was then ultimately cleared by Pepe. A fruitless first half ended with what appeared to be a dispute between Mourinho and the Sevilla bench.

The best chance of the game so far fell to Sevilla forward Negredo in the 57th minute. Luis Fabiano had planted a through ball past the Madrid defence but the final ball was drilled over the cross bar after being one-on-one with Casillas. The pressure continued to pile on the home team when Carvalho was given a second yellow card after he leant in with an elbow on Negredo.

At this stage, a continuation of Mourinho’s 8 year home match-undefeated streak seemed to be in doubt. Both Benzema and Khedira were substituted for Pedro Leon and Esteban Granero respectively and this seemed to spur the home side on to create more goal scoring opportunities. Los Blancos continued to dominate, however it wasn’t until the 77th minute that Di Maria’s strike from a tight angle gave Madrid the slender lead that they had been chasing down all game. Mourinho’s aggressive strategy of using a three-man defensive formation following Carvalho’s sending-off had finally paid off. Mouhamadou Dabo was also given his marching orders for kicking out at Di Maria during injury time, which reduced the numerical advantage the away side had over Madrid.

While the result may not have been convincing, Mourinho’s Real Madrid had managed to carve out a 1-0 home victory that ensured they would go into the Christmas break trailing Barcelona by only 2 points. It may not have been a classic performance from the match-winning squad, but it was a prime example of Mourinho managing to grab a victory despite an injury-stricken and partially suspended first eleven squad.

Final Score - Real Madrid 1        Sevilla 0
                      Di Maria 77

Man of the Match : Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid)

Article by Alexander "Real Madrid"  Novo (Facebook and Twitter follower)

Spanish Premiera Round 16 - Real Madrid vs Sevilla

It's a match pitting the over achievers in the Premiera this year (Real Madrid) against the dismal underachievers (Sevilla) in round 16 of the Spanish Premiera. It is fair to say that Sevilla has been one of the major disappointments this year, especially domestically. Although they will have some confidence going into the game knowing that they qualified to the second round of the Europa League at the expense of  German league leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Still trying to push their title claims after their loss to Barcelona a few rounds back, Real Madrid will be fielding a squad with many bench players as they have a list of injuries and suspensions which may make the task of beating Sevilla that bit more difficult than will initially be expected.

After Barcelona's 5-1 demolition of Espanyol, Madrid will be under a great deal of pressure to keep up with the league leaders. Whilst Sevilla will look to stay in some kind of contact with the elusive top four clubs in the Premiera.

Real Madrid Team News: A string of injuries affects the Real camp this week. The suspensions don't help either, with both Xabi Alonso and Marcelo suspended, mourinho will have to find replacements defensively. Ramos is also out, while Madrids attack will be at a loss with Higuain out again with Kaka still injured. Although the Brazillian playmaker returned to training this week which is surely a good sign for Madrid fans out there.

Sevilla Team News: Kanoute is out injured, while Pedretti is definitely out for at least two games. Also in doubt it star winge Jesus Navas, who will be key to Sevilla's build up play, he will be given until kick off to prove his fitness. Alexis has been suspended, and it was against Madrid of all teams Sevilla would've needed him as he is their key man when it comes to suring up the defence.

Match Prediction - Real Madrid 3  -  Sevilla 1

What do you think? Comment with your prediction, those with correct predictions will have their chance to feature in the Spanish blog next week.

Winter Wonderland blankets Europe

Sunday, December 19, 2010

League matches in Italy and England have been postponed due to a wintery Christmas that is amounting in Europe. Games across both countries have been moved to after the Christmas break giving teams an early holiday. The much anticipated Chelsea vs Manchester United was one of those games, as Stamford Bridge was almost impossible to enter due to the snow.This was most likely to the dismay of United who were favourites heading into the clash after their brilliant form over the past few rounds compared to Chelsea's more than disappointing form.

Liverpool's aging Anfield did not contain sufficient pitch heating technology to clear the ground of the snow falling on the field.

Elsewhere postponements to lower league Italian, French and Bundeliga matches took place. Inter vs Fiorentina was also postponed but due to the partaking of Inter in the Club World Club which they comprehensively won 3-0, the result will surely put Rafa Benitez at ease after it looked as if he would be out before Christmas.

Football fans will hope that the League games left unpostponed this weekend will still go ahead, as we try and soak up as much football action as possible before the Christmas break. Stay tuned for the round up of the week's action.

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English Premier League Round 18 - Chelsea vs Manchester United - Preview

Once again the English Premier League produces a mouthwatering tie for fans around the world. Chelsea and Manchester United two of the best teams in England this year go head to head in round 18. The game will see the return of Frank Lampard to the starting 1, while it looks as if Berbatov will make a return to continue his socring campaign. United do not have history on their side going into the clash, not winning at Stamford Bridge for eight years. Although Chelsea have been in very poor form of late and will be down on morale heading into the clash. The match promises to be an intense game of football.

Chelsea Team News: The biggest team news to come out of Chelsea this year. the return of Frank Lampard to the starting 11 of the squad will surely give a boost to the team and Carlo Ancelotti. The inspirational midfielder will look to lead the attack against Vidic and crew. Alex is still out as well as Benayoun but Drogba will also reutrn to the starting squad. Chelsea will have full firepower heading into the clash.

Manchester United Team News: The return of Paul Scholes was delayed until January. The experienced midfielder was expected to return before the break, but will not be sufficiently fit for the match. Michael Owen will also be out and the former Newcastle man has really struggled to get matchtime under his belt. Fast paced winger Valencia is still out through injury and will be sorely missed in the creativity department upfront.

Chelsea and Manchester United have produced some amazing passages of football. Both teams consist of World Class players capable of prodcuing moments of brilliance.  A return to action for some of Chelsea's big guns, the blues will look to be in better shape than in previous weeks. United will do into the match knowing that a win will see them go six points clear with a game in hand, which will surely be a nice Christmas present for Sir Alex. With form the only thing to separate the two teams it looks as if this one will go right down to the wire.

Match Prediction - Chelsea 1   -   Manchester United 2

What do you think? Comment with your prediction, those with correct predictions will have their chance to feature in English blog next week.

Real Madrid to add to Super Squad - Transfer Rumours

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Currently under extreme pressure to perform in both domestic and European fixtures, Real Madrid has been at the centre of many rumours involving the Janurary transfer period. Jose Mourinho, or the ‘Special One’, has stated his desire to see more depth in his squad’s attacking lineup, as well as the rest of the team. Los Blancos will undoubtedly be involved in several transfer deals this coming month.

Rumours regarding a move for Benzema to Juventus on loan have gathered momentum in recent weeks, with the Bianconeri keen to lure the Frenchman to Italy. With star striker Higuian nursing a hernia injury on his lower back and Benzema looking likely to depart for Juventus, rumours have circulated that Javier Hernandez could be a suitable replacement, with Jose Mourinho urging club officials to increase efforts to land Manchester United forward.

Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez, who has recently confirmed his desire to leave Mancini’s side, would also be a suitable addition to Los Blancos, although a return to his home country of Argentina seems a more likely move at this stage. Asamoah Gyan, a standout performer for Ghana during the recent FIFA World Cup in South Africa, seems to be heading towards the Spanish capital, according to The Sun, even though he has not been a regular first team starter with Sunderland. His five goals in 11 matches for the Black Cats have nonetheless caught the attention of Mourinho and other Madrid officials.

A move for Gael Clichy to Real Madrid is another shock transfer rumour which has begun to gather momentum in recent weeks. Rumours suggest that Los Blancos are poised to offer striker Karim Benzema in a swap deal for Clichy. Since failing to bring Inter Milan right-back Maicon to the Spanish capital in the weeks after the 2010 World Cup, rumours have once again reignited that the Janurary transfer period will be a prime opportunity for the Los Blancos officials to swoop for the Brazilian. A Maicon-Benzema swap is also an improbable scenario, although it would benefit Rafa Benitez’s struggling, injury-stricken squad.

Villareal’s current top scorer, Nilmar, is another possibility for Mourinho’s squad. The only stumbling block in this transfer deal would be the Brazilian’s buyout clause, which is set by Villareal at 60 million euros, meaning Los Blancos would need to evaluate whether Nilmar would be a worthy addition to the Real Madrid camp.

 Kaka’s return from a meniscus injury in his knee during January will mark a long-awaited return which has seen the former AC-Milan player do very little for his Spanish employers since his move to Madrid in mid-2009. Los Blancos will be keen to see the Brazilian playmaker return to form and help the Spanish giants take honours in both La Liga and the European Champions League.

The upcoming January transfer period will be a busy time for all major football clubs around the world, with many teams keen to secure a squad that will lead them to success. For Real Madrid, the pressure to overthrow Barcelona as La Liga leaders could mean that Los Blancos are at the centre of several major transfer deals.

Article by Alexander "Real Madrid"  Novo (Facebook and Twitter follower)

Final 16 of the Champions League presents some mouthwatering ties

The draw for the final 16 of the Champions League has been announced and it has presented some really anticipated clashes. Some of which include the rematch of the Arsenal vs Barcelona clash last year, a rematch of the Madrid vs Lyon clash last year, a repeat of the Champions League Final in Inter vs Bayern Munich  along with many other interesting ties. The full list can be seen below, with the first team playing at home on the first leg.

 Roma vs Shakhtar Donetsk
Valencia vs Schalke 04
Inter vs Bayern Munich
Olympique Lyonnais vs Real Madrid
Olympique de Marseille vs Manchester United
 Copenhagen vs Chelsea
 Arsenal vs Barcelona
 Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur

Europa League Matchday Six 2011 - Juventus vs Manchester City - Review

A record was set in Turin tonight, as Juventus drew for they sixth consecutive thime in the Europa league. The result means that they join the likes of AEK Athens as the only team to have drawn every match in the European competition. Nevertheless the draw secured City's place as group leaders in group A, and will proceed through to the knockouts with Lech Poznan.

The game saw Juventus line up with a new look squad, the likes of Grygera, Traore, Sissoko and Giannetti getting a start. Del Piero led the team, and his inspired performance certainly did them good as they took the lead through their teenage sensation Giannetti. His debut goal came as a result of the captain's effort down the wing.

Manchester City almost took the lead in the first few minutes, with a fantastic block by Chiellini denied Jo from securing the opener. As time went on possession evened out and City eventually found themselves on the backfoot. A solid disposession from Felipe Melo found Del Piero and the Juventus talisman cut in and played a ball to the youngster Giannetti who tapped the ball in to give Juventus a 1-0 lead.

City came out inspired in the second half, trying to find an equaliser and secure top spot in Group A. Adam Johnson who had been having another stellar night against the Bianconeri was the playmake behind a bit of cool finishing by Jo. A cut in resulted in a ball through over the Juve defence and into the path of Jo who calmly passed the ball into the net around the helpless Manninger.

The draw was probably a deserved outcome for both teams, who at some point had their chance to take all three points. Manchester City move on into the round of 32, while Juventus direct their efforts to bridging the gap at the top of the Serie A.

Final Score - Juventus 1      -       Manchester City 1
                      Giannetti 43           Jo  77

Man of the Match : Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)

Europa League Matchday Six 2011 - Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund - Review

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In a mouthwatering Europa tie Dortmund travelled to Sevilla to play in must win game, Sevilla were content with a draw which would see them move onto the next round of the competition. The 2-2 draw was an enthralling contest with both teams always looking to score. The difference on the night was the taking of chances, as both teams on the night had numerous opportunitites to put the result beyond the other team's doubt.

Borussia looked to be set for victory, dominating the early play as well as getting an early goal. The breakthrough came through Kagawa, who saw a deflected shot go in from just outside the box. Dortmund continued to pus, but Sevilla began controlling the flow of play in the midfield and it was in the 31st minute that Romaric equalised.
For the rest of the half Sevilla dominated play. Four minutes after being shocked by the equaliser, Dortmund were caught ball watching as Kanoute scored with a well taken header.
Towards the end of the first half Sevilla faced a massive setback as Kanoute was taken off injured.

The half time team talk worked to perfection as Borussia came out and just three minutes later scored through towering defender Subotic. The corner was delivered by Sahin and the header was too powerful for Palop. With the game at two all, Borussia began to push, yet were caught on the counter many times.

Fabiano came close to grabbing the winner in the late stages of the match, yet he saw his effort cleared off the line. Sevilla qualify in second, with Borussia being left in third place. Although they still remain at the top of the Bundesliga now, looking more than certain to claim the title.

The second half of matchday six matches will be carried out tomorrow with Juventus vs Manchester City looking the pick of the bunch.

Final Score - Sevilla 2      -     Borussia Dortmund  2
                     Romaric 31        Kagawa 4
                     Kanoute 35        Subotic 49

Man of the Match : Frederic Kanoute

Impact of A-League imports

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Hyundai A-League has certainly helped to grow football in Australia, as the FFA develops new ways to make the league appeal to Aussie fans we need look no further than some of the imports many of the clubs have brought in. Many Europeans, South Americans, Africans and Asian players now call the A-League home. The mix of diverse playing styles allow for a variety of outcomes in each and every match, it has also led to the highest scoring A-League so far in recent years.

Analysing the various imports it is clear that some have had more of an impact than others.

Adelaide's Marcos Flores has established himself as one of the best players in the A-League, His goals have been impressive too and it would be hard to pick a better goal than his solo effort vs Newcastle. He sits on 5 goals this campaign, but is even more dangerous from the way he dictates play with classy passing and sublime through balls. The Argentinian proves to have had one of the greatest effects on A-League football in recent times

In Melbourne Carlos Hernandez has certainly brought about sucess. Now in his fourth year at the club the Costa Rican sits on three goals. However his shooting ratio is second to none. With 28 shots on target Hernandez is a keeper's worst nightmare. The passing ability of the 26 year old has helped team mates Robbie Kruse and in past years Archie Thompson find the target on many occasions.

German midfielder Thomas Broich is a valuable asset at Brisbane Roar. The midfielder's success this season has been in the assists department, claiming an assist in 8 of Brisbanes goals this year. Broich represented his national team at an under 21 level and has brought with him talent and a fantastic work ethic. Broich also proved that he can find the score sheet, on three occasions this year he has found the back of the net.

As the league continues to grow so to will the budgets of clubs, allowing for more expensive and effective improts to be brought into the league. They are an excellent source of football talent and provide great incentive for fans to go and watch their team play.

Player of the Week - Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Barcelona hammered Real Sociadad this week 5-0. Their form in the Premiera this year has been second to none. That is partly due to the attacking prowess and creativity of Leonel Messi. This year Messi's form has been outstanding. Most recently he scored two against Sociedad and was the mastermind behind many of the other goals scored. The Argentinian will hope that he can continue to replicate his form and once again lead Barcelona to yet another La Liga title.

English Premier League Round 17 - Manchester United vs Arsenal - Review

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Manchester United have held out the Gunners at Old Trafford to win 1-0 and go top of the English Premier League. In a low scoring affair, it was Park Ji Sung who made all the difference, scoring with a headed effort late in the first half.

Arsenal came into the match with injury concerns as well as the fact that Manchester City now sat equal with them on points. However Arsene Wenger still decided to start with Rosicky in the place of Cesc Fabregas and young Jack Wilshere for Van Persie.
Sir Alex made a suprise decision to leave Berbatov - who was so prolific in their last league match - on the bench, playing with an out of form Wayne Rooney upfront.

Chances were few in the first half, but it was United who dominated the play through Anderson who expertly controlled the midfield. It was Rooney who unleashed the first shot of the match. An effort from outside the box that was easily handled by Szczesny. Arsenal created their first opportunity and it was Chamakh who latched onto an Arshavin cross to direct a diving header straight at Van der Sar.
Nani almost opened the scoring when an Arsenal defensive error saw the ball drop to his feet, the spontaneous shot just rolled wide of the post. Nani continued to cause trouble for clichy and in the 41st minute a pass from Rooney allowed him whip a ball into the box. Park Ji Sung was there to flick the ball on with his head, the lob, looped over Szczesny's head and into the net, giving United the lead just before half time.

The second half opened up a little, however chances on goal were still few as the defence's of each team repelled each attack. Chamakh once again had an opportunity to score. A defelcted ball fell to him in the box. His shot was blocked by some world class defending by Nemanja Vidic clearing the ball for a corner - which amounted to nothing.

Midway through the second half Wenger introduced Fabregas (coming off an injury) and Van Persie into the mix, for Rosicky and Wishere respectively. The changes also saw a formation change, highlighting Arsenal's push for a goal.

But it was United who continued threaten. A break by Nani saw him run into the box, Gael Clichy in an attempt to clear the danger handled the ball, leaving the linesman no choice but to flag for a penalty. Rooney stepped up and the Manchester United - after a unorthodox run up - blasted the ball over the bar and well into the stands.

Arsenal continued to rally, but Manchester counter attacked through Andersom who thread a ball through Nani who after a tustle with Clichy was able to shoot one on one with the Arsenal keeper. But he was unable to keep his shot down.

Walcott was presented with the last opportunity of the match, his half volley also drifted over the bar and with that the final whistle blew.

The game did not live up to the expectation associated wih it before hand, nevertheless United move clear at the top with a game in hand. Arsenal take on Stoke next week and while Manchester face an out of form Chelsea.

Final Score - Manchester United 1   Arsenal 0
                     Park Ji Sung 41

Man of the Match : Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)

English Premier League Round 17 - Manchester United vs Arsenal - Preview

Monday, December 13, 2010

One of the greatest rivalries in the world will be on show as Manchester United take on Arsenal in round 17 of the English Premier League. Both teams have been in spectacular form this season with Arsenal sitting in equal first and Mancheser in third just two points behind. With both teams qualifying for the round of 16 in the Champions League midweek morale in the camps will be high.

Arsenal are coming in off the back of the 2-1 Fulham victory where Samir Nasri showed his class by slotting home two unbelievable goals to lead his team to victory. Manchester had their game against Blackpool postponed due to a frozen pitch. They will be hoping that they can replicate the form of two weeks back where they hammered Blackburn 7-1, with Berbatov scoring a record equalling five goals in a single premier league match.

Arsenal Team News: Injury has plagued the Arsenal camp for the past few weeks, but they have showed their depth and youth talent by seemingly playing better. Once again Arsenal will sweat on the fitness of Cesc Fabregas who continues to struggle from his hamstring injury suffered a few weeks back. Diaby is also out with an ankle injury but will be given as much time possible to prove his match fitness. Almunia and Vermaleen are still out and will not feature. However Van Persie may make a Premier League return after his prolonged injury lay off.

Manchester United News: A team boost for Manchester United as their defence will be toughened, with the addition of Ferdinand and Evra in the squad. Sir Alex Ferguson will be wanting Paul Scholes to be ready for the clash, but he also has injury concerns. Valencia is still out through injury, but is recovering well. Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves will also be unavaliable due to injury.

As is always the case with Manchester United vs Arsenal goals will be a factor and I'm expecting a hgh scoring affair. Injury concerns will also play a part with squads not being finalised until the whistle. This is a game not to be missed.

Match Prediction - Manchester United 2 - Arsenal 3

What do you think? Comment with your prediction, those with correct predictions will have their chance to feature in English blog next week.

Italian Serie A Round 16 - Juventus vs Lazio - Review

Juventus have consolidated their place in the top four of the Serie A with a win against Lazio. The victory sees the Bianconeri reach 16 games unbeaten in all competitions. Lazio have slid down to fourth place after the loss, which could've just as easily been a draw. The 2-1 victory, gives the Bianconeri something to build upon as they try to close Milan's six point gap at the top of the Serie A.

The game was the most anticipated clash of the Serie A this week, and to be honest the game did not disappoint. The first half was evenly contested by the two teams. However it was Juventus who opened the scoring early with Giorgio Chiellini heading a beautifully delivered corner from Aquilani. Lazio remained very composed as Zarate started to find his feet. The "go-to" man was rewarded when some poor Juventus defending, led to a goalmouth scramble and as the ball fell to Zarate's feet and the Argentinian did what he does best, scoring once again this season.

However the goal sured up Juventus' defence and the Old Lady began to move forward in attack. Alberto Aquilani was instrumental in the midfield constantly threading long balls forward not to mention that he hit the crossbar twice in the first half, while Felipe Melo his midefield counterpart, played exceptionally well ensuring he won every ball presented to him. Lazio through Andre Dias remained solid at the back countering every attack presented by Iaquinta and Quagliarella.

The second half saw a shift in possession with Juventus coming out to dominate the play. Juventus winger Milos Krasic began to drible at the Lazio defence and a number of breakthroughs saw crosses begging to be finished. Mid-second half Simone Pepe added some extra attacking flair when he was substituted on for Marchisio. But it was to be Sissoko's introduction for Aquilani that would prove the difference in the tough encounter.

Four minutes of injury time were added on and it looked as if both managers were content with a draw, as both had brought on defensive players. In the 92nd minute Del Piero (on for Quagliarella) lined up a shot from a free kick, which forced Muslera into a world class save. A Melo dispossession late in injury time, led to a pass to Sissoko. The Mali international then thread a long ball through to Krasic who utilized his speed to get the better of the Lazio defence. His trademark cut-in run led to a shot which could only be parried by Muslera into his own net, giving Juventus a victory with the last kick of the match.

The Bianconeri were derservant of a goal, yet Lazio will feel hard done by with a solid defensive peformance proving not enough against the impressive Turin giants.

Final Score - Juventus 2    -    Lazio 1
                        Chiellini 2          Zarate 15
                        Krasic 94

Man of the Match : Alberto Aquilani (Juventus)

English Premier League Round 17 - Tottenham vs Chelsea - Preview

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Aside from Arsenal vs Manchester United, Tottenham vs Chelsea proves to be the biggest clash of the Premier League for this week. Both teams sit towards the top of the table, however the form of both the teams vary. Tottenham have been very good this Premier League season as the they push for a Champions League spot next year. Along with that they are one of the four Premier League squads to have qualified for the Round of 16 in Europe. Another one of those squads is Chelsea, athough recently form has escaped Chelsea, to the extent that they lost to Marseille in their final group match of the Champions League. The match was a dead rubber, but nevertheless Carlo Ancelotti would've preferred to go into the match with a victory under the belt.

Chelsea Team News: Alex is still out after his knee surgery he just recently had, he will not be back until January. Frank Lampard may not feature, as Carlo Ancelotti hinted that he needed more match practice before returning to the frist team. Bosingwa is out through an injury he sustained to his hamstring. Nicholas Anelka and Ashley Cole will make their returns to the first team as they were rested during the Chmpions League match midweek.

Tottenham Team News: The biggest injury concern for Tottenham is of course Rafael van der Vart, the dutch international has been instrumental in many of Tottenham's wins so far this season. Luca Modric is back from injury which will ensure that van der Vart isn't too missed. Jenas and Kaboul may not play, but there is always a chance with football these days.

Tottenham will have home advantage but Chelsea will be hungry for points, this is a game not to be missed.

Match Prediction - Tottenham 2 - Chelsea 2

What do you think? Comment with your prediction, those with correct predictions will have their chance to feature in English blog next week.

Sydeny Rovers officially withdraw bid.....for the time being.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The much anticipated expansion of the Hyundai A-League into South West Sydney has stumbled as the bid has failed to gain much needed funding from a major sponsor. The West Sydney Rovers were aiming to enter the league within the next two years, and looked to be a promising franchise with a massive support base out west.

Although the FFA has not given up on adding another team to the growing leauge. Canberra looks like another safe bet, but the FFA's chief Ben Buckley did not rule out the possibility of another bid from South West Sydney perhaps under a different franchise.

It was suggested that another bid build upon the work of the Rovers team as alot of effort had gone into ensuring that the bid be both viable and prmising. This included work into establishing stadiums and government support.

One thing is for certain the league will need to reach a greater fan base to survive and what better way to do so than to expand the league.

Ballon D'or a Barcelona affair!

The final three candidates for the prestigous Ballon D'or have been announced and it seems that Barcelona have dominated the podium with Xavi, Messi and Iniesta all finding their way into the top three. But this is admist the great performances put in by likes such as Forlan, Robben and Sneijder.

The winners will be announced on January 10. Although it seems that those still in contention to win the award are not content with their posititon. Barcelona and Spanish midfielder Xavi admitted that Sneijder deserved to be on the podium after leading Inter to a treble of Cup trophies.

The title of best coach is also up for grabs, and it looks as if Mourinho already has the title wrapped up, but stiff competition still lies within Vincente del Bosque after his heroics with Spain at the 2010 Fifa World Cup. All will be known on January 10.

Fabio Capello In Talks with Inter?

After recent poor form Inter will be looking not only to sign some new talent in the next transfer window but also maybe find a new coach. Recent Italian media suggests that Inter are looking a bringing back Fabio Capello to the Serie A, after Englands poor World Cup form. Benitez will look to impress in the Club World Cup, as it looks as if poor form there will result in his axing. Although Capello earlier this year stated he wanted to take England through to the Euro 2012 championships, meaning that any offer of a club contract would look unlikely. Capello left the Serie A in 2006 as coach of Juventus after Calciocopli unfolded resulting in their demise to the Serie B

A Glimpse from the week where we saw the best and worst of Football.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An own goal scored by the FC Twente keeper in their game against Tottenham. Hopefully for him he can lift is head and rebound from that horrid effort.

Champions League 2010/2011 - Last 16

The waiting is over as the final eight teams to qualify through to the last 16 of the competition were confirmed today. The teams who qualified are as follows:

Group A - Tottenham and Inter
Group B - Schalke and Lyon
Group C - Manchester United and Valencia
Group D - Barcelona and Copenhagen
Group E - Bayern Munich and Roma
Group F - Chelsea and Marseille
Group G - Real Madrid and Milan
Group H - Shakhtar and Arsenal

Champions League Matchday Six 2011 - Marseille vs Chelsea

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The last matchday of the group stage of the Champions leauge will be completed tomorrow, however there are still some exciting ties in hand. One of those is definitely that between Chelsea and Marseille. Marseille have boasted strong form in France, however lost on the weekend resulting in their sixth loss in all competitions. They currently sit fourth in Ligue 1 and second in the group and are a safe bet for qualification to the last sixteen. Their last opponents Chelsea will look to turn around form which has robbed them of points and top sport in the Premier League. After a 1-1 draw with Everton on the weekend the Blues will come out attacking to prove they still have what it takes to not only win the Champions League but move up in the table in the Premier League.

Marseille Team News: Mbia is suspended which will mean he will not be avaliable for the dead rubber, although will be for the round of 16. Deschamps will look to employ the same 4-3-3 tactic and hope that the firepower seen against Zillina will hold true agains Chelsea.

Chelsea Team News: Anelka and Terry will be rested since qualification is assured. Which means Terry and Essien will feature, giving them much needed game time after their respective injuries. Alex's knee surgery will definitely see him out at least until January. Cech will be rested after sustaining injury at the match against Everton. Chelsea will be relying on their depth to reach the landmark 18 points by the end of the night

Match Prediction - Marseille 1 - Chelsea 3

What do you think? Comment with your prediction, those with correct predictions will have their chance to feature in the round of 16 blog?

Player of the Week - Samir Nasri (Arsenal)

Monday, December 6, 2010

The french superstar and Arsenal attacking midfielder Samir Nasri continues to show his worth in the EPL with another stellar performance this week against Fulham. Tbe Frenchman scored two goals to ensure that the gunners took all three points against the Londoners. The two goals take him to a total of 11 for the 2010/2011 season making him one of the most prolific goalscorers in the league.