Saturday, July 5, 2008

Torres: Liverpool helped me become Euro star

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres believes pressure from Rafael Benitez and inspiration from Steven Gerrard have helped him to become a global superstar and European champion.

Torres

The 24-year-old topped off a season during which he scored 33 goals in his debut campaign for the Reds by firing Spain to the Euro 2008 title last weekend.

And he claims manager Benitez's demand for constant improvement has driven him to ever greater heights following last summer's transfer from Atletico Madrid.

'After you score 20, Benitez is at you during the next training session and stays on top of you all day, all week,' Torres told Champions magazine.

'I want to progress in life, not relax, not be complacent, and you need someone close to you telling you to keep at it. It is impossible to do it otherwise.

'We don't always fancy someone that close but, in the long term, I am sure that everybody will thank him for it.'

The Spaniard has also been impressed by his club captain Gerrard, and in particular by the Scouser's ability to deal with the pressures that come with his high profile.

'He's always under tremendous pressure to perform and everyone looks to him to show leadership, to lift the team,' Torres said.

'He's a great example, and those of us who have been in a similar situation know how difficult it is to handle. 'It's incredible the way he carries himself regardless of what is going on around him. I'd love to be captain of another team one day and Steve has shown me how to be a great leader.'

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Ajax sign Serbian striker Sulejmani

Ajax have agreed a 16.25million euros fee for the transfer of forward Miralem Sulejmani from Eredivisie rivals Heerenveen.

Ajax sign Serbian striker Sulejmani

The 19-year-old Serbia international - one of new coach Marco van Basten's main summer targets - agreed personal terms with the Amsterdam outfit earlier this week.

'We have a deal with the player, correct,' Ajax technical director Danny Blind told Voetbal International on Thursday.

'It's now a case of the clubs coming to an agreement. Those negotiations are still under way.'

Heerenveen had stressed on several occasions they did not expect Sulejmani to be at the Amsterdam ArenA next season, but a fee was agreed on Friday evening.

Sulejmani scored 15 goals in 34 matches for Heerenveen last term

Watch the fans of Heernveen singing to Miralem Sulejmani :

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Beckham stands firm amidst the chaos

A collection of transfer rumours and facts that are doing the rounds -Harry Kewell makes move to Galatasaray,Paul Robinson maybe going to West Bromwich Albion,Italian defender Andrea Dossena goes to Liverpool,Portsmouth are going to take Peter Crouch for £10m,22-year-old James Milner from Newcastle is going to Aston Villa,Richard Dunne will be staying on at Manchester City,Marvin Emnes signed up for Middlesbrough, Steven Taylor stays with Newcastle United,Atletico Madrid signed French international goalkeeper Gregory Coupet,Ronaldinho won't be sold at a discount,Messi's going to Serie A,most of the Chelsea team is heading off to Inter Milan,Cristiano Ronaldo is going to Real Madrid,no he's not,yes he is,no,yes,no,yes,sez who..etc.In the middle of all this chaos here's one person who's not going anywhere.David Beckham - scoring his fifth goal of the season for the Galaxy in a game they lost to New England Revolution by 2 goals to 1


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Best goal of Euro 2008

Wesley Sneijder's goal against France has been officially declared the best goal of this EC.He got 40% of the votes Nihat's goal against the Czech Republic came second with 14% and Arshavin’s goal against Sweden came third with 12%.All this is on the UEFA website here...


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Ballota, 44, still eyeing Serie A action

Italian keeper Marco Ballota said he will be playing next season in the Serie A despite turning 44.

Ballota

"While I still enjoy playing and want to be out on the pitch I will keep looking for a club," Ballota was quoted as saying by Calcio Italia on Friday.

Ballota became the oldest player ever to play in the Italian League last season with Lazio.

But Lazio decided against extending Ballota's contract after a campaign marred by dreadful errors.

However, the veteran goalie said he is still keen on playing for the 29th successive season.

"I am very proud that I still appeal to teams at the age of 44. It means that I have done well in the past," Ballota said.

"For now I am off to Egypt on holiday and then I will be back and ready to go."

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Spain go to the very top

Spain have climbed to the top of the FIFA ranking for the first time ever.The latest rankings are ..
!. Spain
2. Italy
3. Germany
4. Brazil
5. Holland
6. Argentina
7. Croatia
8. Czech Republic
9. Portugal
10. France

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Indian kids get a chance to meet Zidane

An Indian under 12 team has been included among 40 nations playing "Yakult Danone Nations Cup football tournament" - in which the other teams thankfully are also made up of kids of the same age.12 teams of kids are gathering at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi on July 11 and 12 to fight for a place among those selected.
The winner of the national leg will not only play in the world finals in Paris, but also get a dream chance of meeting Zinedine Zidane.
And who knows we might discover an "El Nino" of our own.......

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Video: El Nino when he was El Nino

Here's Fernando Torres doing what he does best - scoring goals.So what makes the video any different from so many others videos of Torres ? The fact that he is only 12 years old here.This vintage video shows a game between the Atletico Madrid and AC Milan youth teams in 1996.Torres demonstrates the foundations of the skills that took Spain to the summit in 2008.(The ref should have given him a red card for that foul..! :)

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Messi has Italian dream

Lionel Messi's father has claimed that his son hopes to play in Serie A at some point in the future.

Euro2008 hot news

Jorge Messi, who doubles as the Barcelona ace's agent, will have alerted Internazionale, Milan and Roma with his shock revelation.

The Argentina playmaker is regarded as untouchable and his Catalan employers are likely to give any approach for his services short shrift.

However, with Barca currently in the process of rebuilding a squad which failed so dramatically last season, things could change for the 21-year-old at some point in the future.

"For the moment we are thinking of Barcelona, which is a second home for Leo, and he wants to make up for all his injury problems," Jorge Messi told Sportal.

"Having said that, clearly playing in Italy is the dream of every player, including my son.

"Seeing as nobody knows what will happen in the future, let us just say it is possible that sooner or later that dream can come true."

Contact

Inter have made no secret of their admiration for Messi in the past and club president Massimo Moratti will welcome the news that his dream signing could be within reach.

"Let's just say there has been no official contact with Inter," continued Messi's father.

"Nothing official. I prefer not to add anything else to that statement.

"As I said before, things could change in the future."

With Inter encountering difficulties in their pursuit of Porto's Ricardo Quaresma and Chelsea's Frank Lampard, recently installed coach Jose Mourinho may be tempted to switch his attentions to Messi.

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Ronaldo set for surgery

All4All News understands that Manchester United and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo is to undergo surgery on his ankle injury in the next two to three days.

Ronaldo set for surgery

United representatives met with Ronaldo and members of Portugal's medical staff on Wednesday to discuss the necessary course of action for the winger's injured right ankle.

Portugal's team doctor has told All4All News that Ronaldo is expected to go under the knife at the weekend.

But United claim a decision is still to be reached as to whether Ronaldo requires an operation, and issued a statement on their official website.

It read: "Procedures are in place to seek specialist advice, in order to finalise the treatment plan as soon as possible."

The meeting with United officials is reported to be the first time this summer that Ronaldo has spoken to his club since Real Madrid's pursuit of the 23-year-old became public.

Ronaldo, who represented his country as they reached the quarter-finals at Euro 2008, is believed to have delayed the expected operation because he wanted to go on holiday.

Surgery would see Ronaldo sidelined for pre-season, but United will hope their star player is still at Old Trafford and is fit in time for their first game of the 2008/09 campaign, at home to Newcastle on 16th August.

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There's no need to panic - Blatter has another plan

Sepp Blatter

If South Africa ultimately prove unable to stage the World Cup 2010 Blatter is not worried.He has another plan - ingeniously code named "Plan B" stashed in a drawer somewhere . So there is absolutely no need to panic.

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Liga Deportiva Universitaria wins Copa Libertadores

Liga Deportiva Universitaria (LDU) of Quito became the first Ecuadorean club to win the Libertadores Cup after beating Brazil's Fluminense in a penalty shootout on Wednesday.

Ecuador's Liga of Quito Javier Urrutia holds the Libertadores 2008 championships trophy after winning the final football match over Brazil's Fluminenese

The Ecuadorian outfit surrendered a 4-2 first leg lead as they succumbed to a 3-1 away defeat in Rio de Janeiro, forcing a 5-5 draw and sending the game to penalties.

Fluminense midfielder Thiago Neves scored a hat-trick while Bolanos scored LDU's only goal.

But it was goalkeeper Jose Cevallos who was the hero for LDU as he saved 3 out of Fluminense's four spot kicks to give his country their first Libertadores title with a 3-1 shootout victory.

The win means LDU will be representing South America in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan this December.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Another new football - Nike will succeed where Adidas failed.

nike total 90 omni

The fabled new Europass ball was perhaps much ado about nothing.77 goals were scored in the tournament.This was exactly the same as the number of goals scored in Euro 2004 The all time record of 85 goals was scored in the euro 2000 championships.So Adidas' tall claims that the ball was the most incredible piece of technical wizardry since Harry Potter's broom were exactly that - tall claims. Lehmann's fears that the ball would float like a butterfly and sting like a bee proved pretty unfounded.In fact the ball didn't seem to move around much.Only 2 goals came off free kicks and in both cases the wicked swerve predicted by Adidas and anticipated by Lehmann did not occur.Ballack scored one - and his free kick powered its way into the goal through a gap in the wall.There was a swerve in the second one from the France Italy game. But that swerve came from a deflection off poor Thierry Henry's farewell boot.
However for the next PL season Nike are going to succeed where Adidas failed.They too have invented a new football - This one is designed to take it to the next level - constructed with engineered hexagons and pentagons, with a 360-degree sweet-spot. It's advanced technology ensures that all the pieces of the ball are stitched evenly together to make an as-close-to-perfect sphere as possible.It is a ball that is going to push the boundaries for consistency, accuracy and visibility.On top all that it also has red stripe on it to help players make split second judgements The Star Trek fans will say " It's a ball that is going to boldly go where no ball has gone before"...............!
Lehmann is maintaining a dignified silence on this one - so far.!

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Calcio Debate: Yes To Nesta, No To Totti

Reports in the Italian press suggest that Alessandro Nesta and Francesco Totti will be persuaded out of international retirement in time for the 2010 World Cup campaign. Carlo Garganese asks whether this would be a good idea…

Totti And Nesta

The inquest into Italy’s underwhelming Euro 2008 campaign goes on, but one thing is for certain, and that is the Azzurri were short of genuine, world class players in Austria and Switzerland. Alessandro Nesta and Francesco Totti undoubtedly fall into this category, and Italy could surely have only benefited from their presence (disregarding the latter’s current injury) had they both not retired from international football last year.

With it increasingly likely that Marcello Lippi will return to the fold to succeed Roberto Donadoni, there have been reports in the media that he will immediately bring back Nesta and Totti. Would this be a good idea though?

If there is one lesson that the Azzurri must surely learn from Euro 2008, it is that they require more dynamism, pace, and young blood in their team. Experience and tactical know-how is vital of course, but the mix and balance has to be right. Taking to the field for the first game against Holland with nine players over the age of 30 (and another aged 29) was a recipe for disaster.

By the time the 2010 World Cup comes along in South Africa, most of the current Italy squad will be pushing towards and past their mid-30s. Christian Panucci (who will be 37), Marco Materazzi (36), Massimo Ambrosini (33), Alex Del Piero (35), Simone Perrotta (33) must not be still around, while there should also be question marks next to the names of Rino Gattuso, Luca Toni, and even Fabio Cannavaro, who will be nearly 37.

The new coach, let’s just assume it is Lippi, needs to start building towards 2010. The Azzurri have a relatively easy qualifying group, and it is imperative that he begins to blood some youngsters immediately so that come South Africa they are comfortable and experienced, unlike Alberto Aquilani, who despite being a great prospect, was thrown in at the deep end against Spain having only won a handful of caps. With this in mind, would it be wise to recall Nesta, who will be 34 in 2010, and Totti, who will be 33 years and nine months?

In the case of Nesta, Lippi must do everything possible to entice him back. The Milan man has been one of the great stoppers of the past decade, and I have no doubts that he will still be a class act come 2010. More importantly, Italy are currently going through possibly the worst period in their history in terms of up-and-coming centre backs. Giorgio Chiellini was a revelation in the Euros, and certainly looks like he can be the real deal. Napoli’s Fabiano Santacroce (nicknamed by some as the ‘new Nesta’) is a stunningly raw talent and has shown all the signs of a future great defender.

However, apart from these two players, there is little else around. Two more seasons may take their toll on Cannavaro, while it seems doubtful that Andrea Barzagli or Alessandro Gamberini will be good enough. In simple terms, Nesta would certainly strengthen the Italy backline.

As for Totti, my view is completely different. Apart from starring for the Azzurri way back at Euro 2000, and providing a few assists at the 2006 World Cup, the Roma symbol never came close to replicating his outstanding club form for his country. If he could not do it for Italy during his prime, there is little chance of him suddenly turning it on at the age of nearly 34.

Recalling Totti would undoubtedly prove that Italy have not learned their lessons from the Euros. Unlike in defence, Italy have some fantastic, fresh, and vibrant support strikers coming through, such as Sebastian Giovinco, Giuseppe Rossi, and even the 17-year-old Mario Balotelli, who is already mature beyond his years.

I am all in favour of the Italian system of protecting talented youngsters from getting physically and mentally burnt out before their mid-20s, as has happened to some explosive players in other countries. However, sometimes the Azzurri extend this formula too far, and players who are past their best, as Totti will be in 2010, block the younger players coming through.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

XAVI TOP EURO 2008 STAR

Spain midfielder Xavi has been named the best player at Euro 2008.

The 28-year-old Barcelona player, the heartbeat of Spain's midfield during the tournament, was voted the Castrol player of the tournament by a nine-strong panel of UEFA's technical experts.



Xavi The Star



There was no place for Cristiano Ronaldo in the 23-man squad of the tournament however.

The squad did include Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar, Michael Ballack and Jose Bosingwa from Chelsea, Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas, Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, and Spurs-bound midfielder Luka Modric.

UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh explained Ronaldo's absence was due to the fact Portugal did not progress further in the tournament.

Roxburgh said: This is entirely about the tournament and not about reputations or how well you started.

"Of course he was mentioned - and if Portugal had gone further, there's no argument he has been in this group because he's a fantastic player.

"He was in our Champions League all-star squad for the season, and the beginning of the tournament he threatened he was going to be in this one.

"But then it came abruptly to an end. When it comes to a squad of the tournament, those that go to semis and final dominate things like this."

Nine of the 23 players in the squad of the tournament were Spanish, but Roxburgh said Xavi stood out.

He added: "We think he epitomised the Spanish style of play - he was extremely influential.

"We are not all that surprised, because for more than a decade now the top youth teams in Europe have been Spanish and we have been watching Xavi and others in this squad from a very young age.

"Torres scored the winner in a youth final, and Fabregas was the star of the under-17s. In this tournament, Fabregas' influence in the periods when he did play was extremely significant."

Roxburgh added that Torres has proved himself one of the top players in Europe.

"Clearly he's a match-winner - he's a fantastic front player - very fast, powerful, brave and he's a finisher. His movement is excellent as well," said Roxburgh.

"To say anyone is the best player in the world is a difficult one, but he is one of the big talents we have in European football."

He also singled out Germany captain Ballack for praise.

"Ballack was a major influence on Germany all the way to the final and he scored the best set-play goal of the competition with his free-kick against Austria," said Roxburgh.

SQUAD OF THE TOURNAMENT

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Iker Casillas (Spain), Edwin van der Sar (Netherlands).

Defenders: Bosingwa (Portugal), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Carlos Marchena (Spain), Pepe (Portugal), Carles Puyol (Spain), Yuri Zhirkov (Russia).

Midfielders: Hamit Altıntop (Turkey), Luka Modrić (Croatia), Marcos Senna (Spain), Xavi Hernández (Spain), Konstantin Zyryanov (Russia), Michael Ballack (Germany), Cesc Fàbregas (Spain), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Lukas Podolski (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands).

Forwards: Andrei Arshavin (Russia), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia), Fernando Torres (Spain), David Villa (Spain).

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Germany 0 - 1 Spain (Champion)

European Championships I mean. Spain clinched a well deserved 2nd title which was 44 years in the making with this goal from Torres.


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Viva Espana: El Jogo Bonito is alive

I have tears of joy. Watching Spain get over their mental block against their more heralded European rivals, doing it their way, playing beautiful, attacking soccer and finally winning what was rightfully theirs. There is a God occasionally and he chose the right time to be munificent.


Viva Espana

There was Ballack his face streaked with congealed blood and the nonplussed Metzelder and Mertesacker, their faces frozen in disbelief and dismay, as they contemplated another championship without a title. Ballack is now the eternal stepchild, having lost out on the World Cup, Premiership, Champions League, and now the Euro.

It was Germany that came out in the first 20 minutes looking sharper and crisper as the Spanish backpedaled to keep the ball away from Podolski and Klose. But the defense gained in confidence as they won some hard fought 50-50 tackles. And slowly Spanish superiority in the midfield exerted itself. It was El Nino who created the best chance as he went up against Metzleder and guided a header which fortuitously hit the goal post after beating Lehmann and bounced out of harm's way. Germany was suddenly the team with their backs against the wall.

As it was with Turkey, Philip Lahm again donned the mantle of scapegoat as he went toe to toe with Torres, and got blistered. Torres turned the corner and then toed the ball past Jens Lehmann who over committed himself, telegraphing the little faith he had in his defenders. It was the 32nd minute and the Spanish were ascendant. There was Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, and Ramos stringing together fantastic passes and relying on flicks, sleight of foot, and peripheral vision to tease and torment the Germans.

Viva Espana

Spain should have gone about three goals up as Sergio Ramos's header was parried out by Lehmann, Senna flashing a nanosecond late following a beautiful one- two with Iniesta heading down a cross from Silva across goal, and Ramos whistling a shot just past the far post.

Viva Espana and congratulations to them. We will see them again. And its onwards full speed for Aragones boys to the World Cup.

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Finals jinx still haunting Ballack

Michael Ballack suffered yet another final's heartbreak as Germany lost the EURO 2008 final match to Spain on Sunday.

Ballack .. Jinx

The Germany captain had a long and bitter history with decisive matches, started back in 2002, when he was still playing for Bayer Leverkusen.

Leverkusen needed only a draw in the last game of the Bundesliga but Ballack, who was making his last appearance before moving to Bayern Munich, converted the ball into his own net and denied his side a precious title.

The instrumental midfielder suffered another setback later in the same season as Leverkusen lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid thanks to a miraculous goal from Zinedine Zidane.

In the same year, Ballack could have ended the jinx as Germany reached the World Cup final but he missed the game because of suspension.

Finals' ghosts revisited Ballack on three occasions in 2008.

His club, Chelsea, lost the Premiership title to Manchester United in the last matchday before failing to win the Champions League title later after defeat on penalties to the same side.

And Germany's defeat to Spain the EURO 2008 finals came only to wrap up Ballack's misery.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

The graveyard of defenders

Marcos Senna is being celebrated as a find, a player finally giving teeth to the much maligned Spanish defence, a noteworthy ally in its potent attack. But he is in a minority because this Euro shone a spotlight on the number of flatfooted defenses which became red meat for swift counter attacks. Teams could not hold onto leads. Goals were given up by defenders without thought. And attacks were sustained by the inability of the defenders to clear the ball effectively. In basketball terms, the advantage lay with the team making all the offensive rebounds.

Many examples abound, Gianluca Zambrotta's interception of a Razvan Rat long ball which he mishit into Adrian Mutu's direction that the Romanian striker gobbled up gratefully. Or Sergio Ramos whose problems staying upright led to Zlatan Ibrahamovic scoring a goal. In between we were treated to Florent Malouda defending in vain against Dirk Kuyt's goal. Or Philip Lahm's atrocious defending against Sabri that led to Semih equalizing for Turkey. The Czech defence kept Nihat onside enabling him to score the game winner. These defensive lapses became de riguer and costly to the team's chances.

Managers discovered that experience was an over rated attribute and that age and attrition had sapped players of the quick reflexes resulting in porous defenses breached repeatedly by a fast counterattacking style. Many teams too were forced to employ a makeshift defense because of injuries to their first line.

The French relied on Lilian Thuram and Willy Sagnol, players brought back from retirement, which saw the Dutch shredding them in one of France's worst defeats. In turn, the Dutch led by Andre Ooijer and Wilfred Bouma at the back, slowed down by injuries and age, were no match for Arshavin and company. Italy in Cannavaro's absence patched its defense pairing the 36 year old Christian Panucci with the much younger Andre Barzagli or Giorgio Chiellini at the center, to ultimately no avail. The Czech Republic's defensive line boasted 242 caps, a lifetime of experience which counted for nought as the Turkey embarassed them in the match of Euro 2008. The Turks repeated their performance against Croatia, another team with a veteran defense, with Dario Simic one shy of a century of caps for his country and Robert Kovac and Josip Simunic accounting for another 143.

Spain will try and exploit a German side that has had trouble keeping the ball away from the back of the net with Croatia, Portugal, and Turkey giving plenty of heartburn. Age and injuries can slow down a defense but these are not the excuses for a German team that has a group of young defendees who should have no problems with speed or reflexes. But their team has been found wanting. Per Mertesacker and Christoph Metzelder as the sentinels in the center have looked slow and tentative. At right back Jogi Low has tinkered with Lahm, Fritz, and Friedrich but they have proved inadequate. Lahm has used his attacking prowess down the left flank effectively but his defense has been questionable. Even with Torsten Frings giving additional cover, the Germans look shaky. Given that Jens Lehmann has been having some problems with motor co-ordination, this does not bode well for a team having to stop the likes of Villa, Torres, or Guiza.

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