Monday, 23 September 2013

Sports Journalism - First Day at Uni

Here's a different flavour purely on the fact that I embarked on my first year of three at Southampton Solent University. Sports Journalism has always been the course I've wanted to do so it only seems fitting that I give a little insight into a day of a student on this one. Anyway here goes.

- Early mornings are definitely not a personal favourite of mine, Literally went to sleep around 4/5am and woke up a measly two hours later around 7:30. It's up there with lack of food on a list of things that aren't the best parts about uni. Managed to kind of brush my teeth and wash my face should have opened my eyes by this point mind. Luckily I had jeans and a jumper to hand, it was a weird kind of day weather wise due to the fact it started off cold then got really warm literally melting around the afternoon time. Got into the first lecture room and it was pretty packed looking at around 70 people so clearly a popular degree.

We got introduced to all the lecturers one by one. I have to say I met one of the main ones John May before at an open day and he was just brilliant. He's one of those down to earth people who just enjoys everything he does whether he's taking the mick or he's being serious he's one of those loveable people. The rest all seemed like they had a bit of banter between them most notably Will Cope, Andy Ford and David Reilly. What makes their stuff genius is the fact half of the time it's related to sport which makes it even better. If they weren't taking the provocative out of each other they were doing it to others. This is a reason why Uni and College yield more success and happiness than school. We had an hour just being told about our course and things that we will study etc. Then the best part of the day came, A guy named Jim O Brien who literally looked like a bouncer at an empty night club...useless. Yet as soon as he started talking everyone just started listening.

I found out we were getting a Spanish football insight from an expert. This was an hour of just sheer immense quality, I found myself hanging onto his every word. From the history of Spanish football to the reason why Barca hate Madrid it was literally the best start to the day. I could listen to stuff like that all day, an hour went by literally so quickly it was time to head upstairs to play lecturer bingo or something like that. The lesson if you can call it that was literally just they told you a fact about a lecturer and you had to guess what it was. There were some pretty hilarious ones there mind ranging from being kicked off a set by Cameron Diaz, on the other side you had someone hit a golfball straight through a Nissan Micra. What a superb morning.

The afternoon was kind of tedious in fairness. Had to go to a student support meeting and that was not only boring but ill informed like seriously who pays these people to do this. Then I had to wait an hour for the last lesson so spent an hour exploring Southampton then went back and we just essentially assembled a microphone and conducted an interview which I made some cheeky questions which were off the record. All in all a really interesting and exciting day, could do it all day in fairness.

Thanks for reading
Much Appreciated
D. Davies

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Whole Gareth Bale saga is over...

First of all let me state that I'm a huge advocate for Gareth Bale not only is he Welsh but he's one of those players that you're so glad plays the game of football. He is definitely the third best player in the world, I know people speak of Neymar and Iniesta but with the latter he plays in a dominant side most often on the front foot. The same will be of Neymar this season. Barcelona always have the majority of the ball so it's easy to do the simple things and create chances. Bale last season ran the show at Spurs on his own some games. Only have to think about the last day of the season against Sunderland and the previous week against Southampton.

It's crazy to think that now it's all done and dusted that he's going to start in the same side as superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. My favourite footballer may I add. Villareal on the weekend for Madrid and I bet Bale himself is just as excited as me to get started. It was a long old summer for all of us tired of hearing Bale wants to go and Rooney wants to stay and Suarez well does what he usually does, Controversial. I love the transfer window it's exciting to see who your team is in for but then devastating to see who goes out. Spurs did remarkable well they now have a quality squad capable of challenging the top but losing their star player will come at a price in those 0-0s away to Stoke etc.

I'm just glad and i'm sure everyone else is that the whole situation is resolved and that Bale got his deserved move and Spurs got the money because both will prosper. Gerard Pique said recently that he thinks the first month will be crucial for Bale and I agree if he starts winning the fans over and producing instantly like the likes of Isco have done this season alongside former team-mate Luka Modric then Madrid will yield the results. I have a passion for Madrid, actually Spanish football in general but Madrid the whole history behind them is just unbelievable. Barcelona are something special and the way they play similar to Swansea(my team) is nothing short of mesmeric at times even with the magical Messi.

Back to my original point I'm just glad the whole thing has been resolved, we all know it was coming yet there was a relief when it was finally done. Maybe Bale can inspire a generation of Welsh talent you just never know. One thing is for sure Welsh football is on the up even the rugby boys will struggle to surpass this.

- Cheers for reading
- Much appreciated
- Dan

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

My Lions Team v Australia(Updated) - Tour Review

Lions tours are all about momentum and in 5 games, The Lions bar injury were starting to build up steam. It was like watching a wrestler execute a move set and the crowd were getting involved as well. So what do we know so far. Well we know that some players are not only big players for their countries but also for the tourists as well. I'm looking at George North, POC, Leigh Halfpenny and Adam Jones. North got injured against the combined country and was struggling for movement in training. Rob Howley said today that he believes North is in the best shape of his career. His influence cannot be understated and against whatever all star backline Australia put out his sheer presence will worry the boys in Melbourne.

North in action against Combined Country

The ability to break the gain line is vitally important in rugby, the equivalent in football would be retaining the ball stops your opponent from scoring. Staying in rallies in tennis makes your opponent work harder, you get the gist. Roberts, Tuilagi, O Driscoll, North, Cuthbert are all players who can smash through the gain line but only three of these are fit and North marginally. We all know Warren Gatland's plan for Australia to get good ball to smash through and offload etc. We understand that Roberts won't make saturday but will make next week. Tuilagi is in slightly better shape but has he played enough. Gatland's game plan has counted against one of the star performers on the tour Jonathan Davies who would be a certain starter had one of the greatest centres in the game not graced the stage one more time.

Front 3

Before the tour, I went for a Healy, Hibbard and Jones split. Now when I look at the fact that Healy has gone home injured after the game with Western Force and Hibbard hasn't really lit the tour on fire despite being the front runner. This coming from a huge advocate of Hibbard's. Mako Vunipola has made the number one jersey his own. His destructive running with ball in hand especially considering his age is relentless. Add that to the fact that he gets through plenty of work you've got yourself a future star. His only weakness is his scrummaging but he can only get better with age. 

Like I mentioned Hibbard has been in and out of games this tour. Sky reported on tuesday that the Osprey has fallen down the pecking order due to his influence on games and his work at the lineout. He needed a good 20 minutes against the Waratahs which he didn't really get. Tom Youngs hasn't lit the world on fire on tour but he has been consistent especially his lineout which Gatland knows his crucial the game on the weekend. He can also add out wide and in close contact since he is an ex centre. Adam Jones will always be the front runner he's the best number 3 in the world, despite only playing bit parts you can bet he was saved for the final. Dan Cole impressing but Jones irreplaceable. 

1.Mako Vunipola 2.  Tom Youngs 3. Adam Jones

Second Row

One again pre-tour I went for the trusted AWJ and POC as locks because of their experience and sheer ability. Early on I felt like questionning myself due to the imperious form of Richie Gray who was pheunomenal early on but that disappeared towards the latter of the warm ups. Geoff Parling another who was impressive but only from the bench and will be a great impact player from the side. O Connell has been his usual self on tour, making carries, hitting rucks and earning the hard yards. In contrast Alun-Wyn Jones has been bringing his athletic side to the party. They both work well in tandem and will definitely have the pairing for the first test. I've been very impressed with AWJ's form since returning in the 6 Nations.

4)Paul O Connell  5) Alun-Wyn Jones

Back Row

Sam Warburton cementing his place against Reds

The breakdown will be huge in the three tests. With Michael Hooper planning on hitting every ruck and stealing as much ball as possible, The Lions need someone to combat this and it looks like skipper Warburton is the man. Personally if it weren't for Justin Tipuric's performance against the Tahs on tuesday we would be seeing perhaps him and Warburton starting like they did in that stunning 30-3 win over England. The team were blown away in the breakdown, which essentially wasn't just Tipuric's fault. His fellow forwards let him down but it will still count against him. O Brien, Gray, Best, Grant and co were so far off the pace it was astonishing. 

First half Tipuric made 3 turnovers on his own and in the second half they targeted him so kept him away from the action. Warburton was impressive against high calibre opposite such as the Queensland Reds on saturday and that gives Gatland the confidence to select him. Tipuric's stock has risen but surely the idea of putting them both together won't materialise on saturday. Toby Faletau has propelled himself into starting at 8 on the weekend for his sheer single handedly performance this week. He seemed like the only player giving his side good ball and hitting everything. Add that to the fact Heaslip hasn't really sparked then you can see the team being put together. The only dilemma Gatland will have is at 6 does he go for the athleticism and speed of Tom Croft for the wide exchanged but risk losing the breakdown or go with a genuine 6 like Dan Lydiate/Sean O Brien. The latter two will help win the breakdown but don't have the same attributes like Croft when the game is lose which is why I believe Croft will be on the bench saturday. 

6) Dan Lydiate 7) Sam Warburton  8) Toby Faletau


This one was sown up before the tour and nothing has changed my mind. Mike Phillips started as the first choice and he's done nothing wrong to alter that. Also Ben Youngs has been inconsistent in his performances and Conor Murray hasn't got anywhere near. Will Genia is the best scrum half in the world and the Lions will need to take him out of the game which is why Phillips's physique and playing style will adhere to this. Youngs has been great sniffing around the rucks and hitting holes but he sometimes misses passes and also disappears when on the backfoot. At least Phillips will take the ball up as an extra forward. 

On the other hand Jonny Sexton has nailed down his place purely for his distribution and the fact he has been composed at 10. Owen Farrell has shown his goal kicking but he won't create much at fly half which is not what you need against AUS. Sexton's partnership with O Driscoll is huge and underrated. He won't need to kick at goal because of Leigh Halfpenny's impeccable accuracy which means he can focus on his running game to attract Aussie runners. Farrell has shown in bits and pieces what he can bring but he's more of a player you want to finish a game not to win it in the first place. Sexton is the best fly half in the northern hemisphere and will start saturday.

 9) Mike Phillips 10) Jonathan Sexton 


If reports are true and Roberts is struggling for saturday and Tuilagi is a 50/50 then you can bet that they will risk Tuilagi purely because it's the game plan Gatland wants to implement. He wants someone to take it up the middle to punch the hole and use the subtlety of his outside centre to distribute wider and finish tries off. Despite the form of Davies who has probably been the best player on the tour unfortunately his position has cost him. This means Tuilagi will start at inside centre with O Driscoll at outside and Davies will make the bench. The only problem is Tuilagi's distribution is laboured and he is primarily used to run into tacklers. It's a shame for Jamie Roberts because his parnership with BOD is world class. Don't rule out even placing George North in the centre especially given his physique and impact. 

12) Manu Tuilagi 13) Brian O Driscoll

Back Three

Due to Tommy Bowe being ruled out this weekend and North struggling it's going to be touch and go up until the game with this one, If fit North will start on the wing because they need to match Australia out wide. Then it's up to Zebo, Wade and Cuthbert for the other side. Wade was poor when called in so he won't make the squad. Whereas Zebo has been smart in what he's brought to the team. I personally believe Cuthbert will start because Gatland likes big wingers in the form of the two Welsh powerhouses. Purely because they can come in and look for work and cause trouble wherever they go. Then the most nailed on position of the squad. Leigh Halfpenny who has not only shown on this tour his goal kicking is priceless but also his positioning and attacking influx. Stuart Hogg has shown attackingly how strong he is but defensively there are questions and he's still learning the game. Expect Halfpenny to start and to be crucial in winning the series, that's if they do win of course.

11) George North 15) Leigh Halfpenny 14) Alex Cuthbert

Star Man - Halfpenny

Thanks for reading
Much appreciated

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Bundesliga Team of the Season - 2012/13

Here's my second Team of the season this time looking at the German division. Bayern Munich won the treble so bare that in mind it influenced my decision on numerous positions. I love the Bundesliga it's probably my join second favourite league with La-Liga so here's my team of the season and comment underneath with your views. It's only my opinion remember. Everyone's views are welcomed.

Bayern Munich - Champions League triumph

GK - Rene Adler

- It would have been easy to go for Bayern's Manuel Neuer, especially with his eye catching performances in Europe but when basing it on the size of the side and how good he's been in Germany I've gone with Adler. After being rejected by Bayern Leverkusen he really found his feet at Hamburg and not only put together a string of successful performances but also pushed his way back into the German set up. 31 appearances and 7 clean sheets that's essentially 1 in 4 games which in the free scoring Bundesliga is impressive. A summer move is perhaps on the card with Arsenal linked.

RB - Dani Carvajal

- I've put Phillip Lahm on the other side of defence to compensate for this unbelievable great season for Dani. Once stuck in Real Madrid's B team and not making the grade there he made a switch to Leverkusen and his performances haven't gone unnoticed most notable by the team that he left from with Real Madrid having a clause in place when he did leave, this week they have announced they will be signing him permanently for £6.5 million pounds which is a bargain especially when you consider he's only 21 years old could be a firm favourite at Madrid for years. Created 9 goals in 31 appearances, it's his solid nature which attracts fans but his ability to cross the ball is similar to Leighton Baines of Everton, he uses a variety of crosses in his arsenal.

CB - Mats Hummels - Dortmund

- Borussia Dortmund's rise to prominence has had much to do with attacking philosophy and also ball retention but what people overlook is the defensive stability Hummels and co maintain. With Wiedenfaller in goals it's the perfect base to build a defence upon. Everyone notices Lukasz Piszczek bombing down the right and rightly so but without the defensive muscle of Hummels and Subotic then it wouldn't happen it's as simple as that.Hummels made 37 appearances this season altogether which isn't exactly stalwart material but his importance is understated. He missed 13 games altogether in the league and perhaps that might have something to do with Bayern's dominance in the Bundesliga. Tall, compact but the ultimate ball playing defender. Also only 24

CB - Dante - Bayern Munich

- Fans may forget that Dante was signed from rival German side Borussia Munchengladbach. Often seen as the weakness in the Bayern defence, has proved many critics wrong this season and has been a star in their rise to the final. most notably his performances in the semi final against Barcelona. We know the Brazilian is cultured as most Brazilians are but it's his composure and his intelligence which partners him up with Hummels. He clears plenty of balls which are put into the box and has the sheer desire to keep on doing it game after game. Missed 10 games of the league season but with Daniel Van Buyten in reserve he has an experienced deputy. 

LB - Phillip Lahm - Bayern Munich

- As I've mentioned I've put Lahm on this side to compensate for Dani Carvajal. We all know all about Lahm by now, it seems like he's been here for years and yet perhaps his best is still to come. His consistency stands him apart from other defenders particularly in Europe this season. Whether it be bombing down the wing alongside Robben/Ribery and co he offers the defensive structure and rigorous discipline which we associate with the Germans in any facet of life. 10 assists in 28 games also shows that he not only can defend but also attack as well which most wing backs need to do these days. I like to think Lahm does the simple things well, he's not going to catch the eye but if you wanted to bet your money on the most consistent player then here he is.

RM - Marco Reus - Dortmund

- Mr Versatile in essence here, can play a variety of positions so I've stuck him on the right here. His speed and technique makes him one of the rising stars of German football and Dortmund will be hoping to hang onto him as much as they can after the departures of Gotze and possibly Lewandowski. What Reus brings to the table is his pure close control and the fact he can do it with both feet. He rose to prominence with Borussia Monchengladbach. In 2012 before joining Dortmund he scored 18 goals and assisted 8 which single handedly drove Monchengladbach to the Champions League before leaving. 47 appearances in all competitions this season yielding 19 goals. Only missed 6 in the league, together with Gotze Marco Reus is unplayable at times. only 24.

CM - Bastian Schweinsteiger - Bayern Munich

- Bastian is the epitomy of Germany resilience. He has won so many top honours at individual level but also at club level. 6 Bundesliga titles, A Champions League title and 6 German cups show how great a player he is. It's his ability like his clubmate Lahm to just keep improving and allowing his consistency to shine through. In 44 appearances this year he chipped in with 9 goals and 13 assists. He simply does his job better than everyone else, he retains the ball, makes the tackles and covers plenty of yards as you would expect but it's his ability to succeed at the highest level which makes him a born champion. The treble this year sums up how great a year it's been for him. At 28 there's still plenty more to come from him which is worrying for his opponents.

CM - Mario Gotze - Dortmund (Joining Bayern Munich before 2013/2014 season)

- As I mentioned before Gotze is a great double act with Reus for Dortmund this season those two act as a foil for Robert Lewandowski to score the goals. These three going forward are devastating at times, which is essentially why Bayern chose to buy Gotze and possible Lewandowski if reports are true.What people have to remember is Gotze is only 21 which is astounding considering the last few seasons he's had. He was the playmaker for Dortmund, his technical ability was matched with superb speed and control. Bayern triggered his £37 million pound close and will make him the most expensive German player ever and with good reason too. The great Franz Beckenbauer has labeled him and Reus "As a classic duo there is nobody better than the prolific Reus and Gotze".10 goals from midfield last season and 16 in all competitions.

LM - Frank Ribery - Bayern Munich

- Ribery has been in superb form this season and it's been his consistency and his ability to stay injury free for once. 8 goals and 12 assists make him the perfect winger for some. His speed and dribbling ability we've known for some time but he's added the ability to find his man on crosses and passing accuracy has improved completely. Remember Zinedine Zidane once labelled Ribery "The jewel of French football". With Ribery on one wing and Robben on the left for Bayern you have two out and out wingers who like to not only beat their man but score goals as well. Was crucial to Bayern's rise to the top this season and expect more to come from the little Frenchman.

ST - Robert Lewandowski

- This goes without saying that the prolific Polish marksman walks straight into the side, a successful season despite losing the Champions League final could be finished with a move to rivals Bayern Munich. If that happens then the rest of Europe has a major problem on their hands. 36 goals in 48 appearances this season is sheer confidence, elegance and composure at the right end of the field. 24 goals in 31 league appearances show how much Dortmund rely on this man for his goals. The highlight of his season will without doubt be his 4 goals he put past Real Madrid in the CL semi finals but it's his overall play and dilligence which stand him apart from other top strikers. A classic example of this was in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu he was given a unpleasurable night should we say by opposition defender Sergio Ramos. How did he respond? With a complete performance and even giving out a few digs along the way. The 6 foot striker at only 24 years of age will surely top the European market for the next few seasons. 

ST - Stefan Kiebling 

- It would have been simple for me to go for Mario Manzukic here but then the team of the season would have been essentially the top two clubs contributing the prolific players. I've gone for a striker despite not playing for a big club he has still got a superb goalscoring ratio this season compounded by the fact that he doesn't have the service of the top club's attacking forces. Kiebling has been at Bayer Leverkusen since 2005/06 and his performances have been slightly inconsistent in certain seasons. For instance in 2009/10 he notched up 21 goals in 35 games, whereas in the following season he scored only 9 in 29 that's a huge gap for a striker. This season however he followed up 17 last season with another 10 more at 27 in 43 which is a decent return for the striker. A tall striker at 6ft 3 but his composure and positioning is outstanding you can tell he's starting to hone his experience especially at the age of 29. It's been a prolific season so expect offers in the summer. 

Thanks for checking out my German team of the season, much appreciated. Only my opinion remember
Take care and follow me on twitter @Daniel_John08

Monday, 3 June 2013

Swansea City Abroad - Interview with Jordi Garcia

Swansea City are expanding as not only a team but as a business or franchise or however you would like to look at it. I'm looking for fans outside the obvious spectrum. The further away from the Liberty Stadium the better. Here's a short interview with a great friend of mine, it's short but it really shows how Swansea are lighting the world up.

 Hello first of all introduce yourself and where you're from?

My name is Jordi Garcia and i'm from Mollet Del Valles, Barcelona, Catalonia Country 

When did you first start supporting Swansea City

 I follow Swansea 6/7 years ago

Are Swansea popular in your homeland?

They are popular because of their Spanish players and their brand of football

What's your best moment as a fan of Swansea City

 Promotion to the Premier League with no doubt

Have you ever traveled from Spain to watch a game?

Yes, Stoke City Season 12/13 , score was 3-1

Favourite player?

Angel Rangel from Catalonia, it's hard to play for a Premier League team

Ideal player you want to see at Swansea?

Robert Firmano(Hoffenheim) - Good quality

Would you encourage other people to support Swansea City?

Yes my friend follows them with me

Is there a similar team in Spain to Swansea City

Barcelona plays similar, also Girona in the Segunda division

So there's my interview with a Spanish fan of Swansea City, massive thanks to Jordi because English is not his best language obviously so great effort. Hopefully there will be more to come in future weeks.

Much appreciated
Daniel John

Thursday, 30 May 2013

My Premiership Team of the Season - 2012/2013

I'm going to do a few team of the season's in the next few days just to round the season off, most of the decisions are pretty self explanatory looking at what they have done for their respective sides but still here we go.

GK - David De Gea

- There weren't many keepers who essentially were in the running for this, purely because defensively teams have been all over the place this season and keepers have made key errors which has been punished. David De Gea joined United in June 2011. Since then he's had two seasons in the Premier League but it still feels like yesterday that the nimble shot stopper flew north from Spain. His first season was slightly error strewn due to the unaccustomed nature of the Premier League. Whether it be the flight of the ball or the physical aspect of the game, the ex Athletico-Madrid man was struggling. The problem he had was the errors he did make were high profile and in the spotlight.

This season has been slightly different, Not only has De Gea built himself up physically but he's accumulated plenty of experience which will serve him well in the future. This season on average it has taken opponents 3.55 shots on target per game to beat him, which is a pretty decent record. He played 28 games this season and made 84 saves in the Premier League alone. 11 clean sheets isn't too bad considering the pressure to succeed he's under. Starlet.

RB - Pablo Zabaleta

- Another position which doesn't shower itself in glory, consistency is key in this position and many players this season have fallen short here. Rafael and Azpilicueta have had strong displays but not all the way through which is why i've gone with Zabaleta. Same goes for Kyle Walker and Glen Johnson, strong showings but defensive frailties often exposed at key times. All talented players in their own right but consistency was key in this decision and that's why I've gone with reliable Manchester City right back Zabaleta. Played 22 times in an injury hit season but his positioning and consistency combined with his ability to bomb forward is a reason why this man was picked.

CB - Jan Vertonghen

- Easy decision for me here, Vertonghen in his first season since signing from Ajax and he has proved a hit since day one. Not only is his versatility across the back vitally important but he is good in the air and with the ball at his feet. What really makes him stand out from other defensive units is the fact he scores a lot of goals from defence. 48 appearances in his debut season across the board and 7 goals which is a great return for a defender. 47 appearances for Belgium and at the age of 26 there are plenty of years to come from Vertonghen. Other players which could have made this position is, Ashley Williams, Phil Jagileka and David Luiz.

CB - Matija Nastasic

- A surprise one here considering the form of Rio Ferdinand but we know the quality of the ex England man and he just stepped it up this season but for me it's the rise of the Manchester City Serbian newcomer Nastasic. He was bought initally as a replacement for train wreck defender Stefan Savic in an exchange plus money. 15 euros were parted with to Fiorentina for his services and his performances have been a real strong point in an otherwise disappointing season for Man City. He brings the ball out from defence and is comfortable but his tactical astuteness and positioning for such a young man is commendable. With Vincent Kompany injured for great lengths this season the emergence of the Serb has been justifiable. 25 appearances and holding off the challenge of Lescott and Kolo Toure in addition to this.

LB - Leighton Baines

- A pretty straightforward choice here, it could have been a straight shoot out between both England left back's Ashley Cole has been superb defensively for Chelsea but what separates Baines from Cole is the fact he not only bombs forward but his crossing and decision making is excellent. Baines created over 100 chances which is the highest all over Europe and that's from a defender. In a better side he would have been able to win things his performances surely deserved. His relationship with Steven Pieenar has been vital to Everton's success this season. His consistency as well has been vitally important having been involved in every game of the Premier League season. Outstanding.

LM - Gareth Bale

- Another position which was pretty much sown up early doors. Gareth Bale has been mesmeric at times this season and unplayable. We all know about his physical fitness and his ability to run up and down the touchline and of course his speed and power to beat a man has been commended in the past. This season he has developed even more characteristics which make him the hottest property in world football. When signed from Southampton we knew about his dead ball ability particularly free kicks but he has developed a technique similar to Cristiano Ronaldo which makes him technically gifted on all fronts. Also this season Bale has played on the right hand side of midfield, since he plays a fleeting drifting midfielder role. This has given him the license to cut in and unleash some absolute world class strikes. Most notably against West Brom, Southampton and West Ham. All of these were winners remember. Bale has played 44 games this season and scored 26 goals in that time. 21 In the league. That's astounding for a winger.

CM - Santi Cazorla

- Arsenal's season hasn't exactly been lifting the world alight but the emergence of Santi Cazorla has really given Arsene Wenger optimism for the following season. Santi has the ability to carry the ball, but also to distribute it well. If you add this to his creativity and the fact he chips in with a few goals it's the perfect combination for a centre midfielder. His partnership with Ramsey and Wilshire when put together has offered Arsenal reassuring displays that they can challenge for top honours again. Having played 49 games this season since signing from Malaga and having scored 12 goals and creating 16 goals, you could say it's been a real highlight for Arsenal. 52 caps for Spain show he is a world class talent and at the age of 28 he still has plenty to offer for seasons to come.

CM - Juan Mata

- The obvious suprise package this season would have been Miguel Michu for Swansea as an attacking midfielder with 22 goals to his name but i've gone with Spanish ball player Juan Mata purely because of his creativity and the sheer amount of games he gets through. Chelsea paid 23.5 million for Mata from Valencia and he has definitely paid them back through sheer appearances alone let alone assists. He has played 64 games this season due to the demanding Europa League schedule and has created 35 goals this season that's sheer class. Remember that's more than Robin Van Persie has scored all season and he finished top goalscorer. When you add that to the fact he's scored 12 goals in the league and has 17 assists in addition to this. Juan Mata is simply superb. Only played 23 games for his country which just shows the sheer quality of Spain's midfield.

RM - Eden Hazard

- "Eden Hazard could be just as good as Messi over the next couple of seasons" - Paul Scholes

- Eden Hazard shocked the world when he signed for the then European Champions Chelsea for 32 million pounds and it looked like a gamble for both sides. Would Hazard get used to the physicality and have Chelsea overspent. Well the answer is yes and no. What he has over many other players except perhaps Gareth Bale is age. He is only 22 which means he hasn't even hit his peak yet and in his debut season he has been world class. Hazard has played 62 times this season only 4 behind star man Mata and this all in his first season. The EL campaign has forced these players to play through burnout and that has given Chelsea fans numerous chances to see this man mature. Having only missed 4 games in the Premier League, Hazard's importance to the team is overwhelming. 11 assists in the Premier League so only 6 behind Mata in his debut season show how vital he has become.

LS - Luis Suarez

- A controversial choice but let's be honest it's a pretty obvious one at that. 44 appearances this season before he controversially bit Branislav Ivanovic. 30 goals and 11 assists were yielded from that figure and for a striker that's pretty much at the top level. Only Van Persie scored more in the league and he was with the league champions not a side that finished 7th. If it weren't for his transgressions then he would be the complete footballer. As it stands he's the complete striker and is courting interest from Real Madrid and Bayern although the other slightly wavering. His ability to dribble the ball and find the net is almost 5 a side - esque. He has scored some wonderful goals this season including that long ball close control finish he showed against Newcastle. Now that Liverpool have given him more support in their side with the signings of Sturridge and Aspas. You can bet he won't be solely relied on anymore.

RS - Robin Van Persie

- A pretty nailed on choice, Last season he scored 30 goals for Arsenal as they clinched top 4 but once United came calling and offered the Dutchman the move he took it with both hands. He hasn't scored as much this season but what he has done is create much more as a striker and that's why United fans have taken to him so well. They have reclaimed the title straight back from their neighbours this season and much has gone down to the efforts of this man particularly early season before he suffered a blip. 8 assists isn't monumental for a striker but his general hold up play and finishing which has been his trademark through his career were impecable throughout the season and that's why he's in my team of the season. Crucial goals against Man City and Liverpool also make him fan favourites. A top buy for 24 million and will keep Arsene Wenger up at night after losing him.

Thanks for taking a read and leave a comment or just tweet me at @Daniel_John08 on what you think, these are just my opinions and everyone's entitled to their own.

Daniel John

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Swansea City - 10 possible signings

Michael Laudrup has stated to the Welsh media that unless he is promised funds for the summer then he cannot guarantee he will stay. I agree with him in this instance, the club is completely stable and with a profit of 15.9 million last year and that doesn't include some of the players they sold like Joe Allen, Danny Graham etc. The Swans need to spend, their most expensive signings being the joint club record fee they paid for Pablo Hernandez and Ki-Seung Yeung. I can see that being eclipsed this summer.Swansea finished 9th in the Premier League which gives them around 7.2 million add that to the millions they will acquire next term you have to wonder why it's not being ploughed back into the team that's keeping them in the league.

1 - Iago Aspas - Celta Vigo - La Liga

Iago Aspas has been the shining light in what has been a poor debut season in La Liga for Celta Vigo. After 36 games Celta currently occupy 20th place in La Liga and even though the gap is only 4 points from Deportivo La Coruna you can not see Celta winning both their games and Deportivo not taking anything, stranger things have happened but it looks like they will drop down to Segunda. This essentially means they will have to offload their strongest asset and for even cheaper than their asking price or his buy-out class for that matter. His clause is 8 million but you can see them losing him for around 6 if the right buyer comes in. He can play as either an out and out striker or a secondary striker in the form of Michu or even a wide player. His versatility could be a huge asset. 11 goals in La Liga for a struggling side is an accomplished sum.

2 - Jose Canas - Real Betis - La Liga

Another recruit from La-Liga, report in Spain understand that Canas had already signed a pre-contract agreement in January so that he can sign this summer. He occupies the holding midfielder role and has a bit of height around him which could be valuable in the engine room for Swansea City. His displays in La Liga have given Real Betis a lofty position. What he does well is the fact he reads the game well and does the simple things. He's not going to create numerous chances or score plenty of goals but he will defend well and distribute ball. Similar mould to Swansea's own Leon Britton. Will join on a free transfer if reports are to be confirmed.

3 - Romelu Lukaku - Chelsea - Premier League

Romelu Lukaku has been instrumental in the success of West Brom this season of course playing on loan there from Chelsea. You have to wonder how he's not been given a chance at the Blues. He was the 6th top scorer in PL with 17 just behind Swansea's own Michu so the idea of putting them both in contrast of one another could be very appealing. Swansea will search for a season long loan again but that could depend on the future Chelsea manager position and also the needs of the powerhouse striker himself. With rumours of him wanting to go to Dortmund. Would be a crucial asset to Swansea if completed.

4 - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Saint Etienne - Ligue 1

We all know Swansea are in the market for a striker and reports in France claim that Swansea, Spurs and other top sides have shows interest in the 19 goals in Ligue 1 Gabonese striker. Speed and strength are this player's main assets and is coming into the latter stages of his contract so could be interested in a move to the Premier League to test himself. Also very young at 23 so can only improve as a footballer and could be sold on in future. Could be an outsider signing for the summer so keep an eye on this one.

5 - Albert Botia - Sevilla - La Liga

All these attacking re-inforcements and what we have to remember is that Swansea are short of quality in the heart of their defence. If reports are true that Ashley Williams is close to a switch to Arsenal then Swansea have lost not only their captain/leader but also the rock at the back. Botia could be seen as a replacement and at the age of 24 there are plenty of years in this player. It's nowhere near a replacement for Williams but at least it's a start, just like all Swansea signings he has played at top level which is crucial. Remember Botia came through at Barcelona.

6 - Andros Towsend/Scott Sinclair - Spurs/Man City - Premier League

Two players of equal status right now, Townsend who was on loan at QPR this season was a highlight in an anotherwise poor season. Scott Sinclair a familiar figure in Swansea's rise to the Premier League and partially their success in their first season has cut a forlorn figure at Man City. Only 4 starts all season and a blood clot in his shoulder just signify how low a season he's had. He knew once he moved that starts would be limited but sacrificing 40 games a season for 10 at most is a massive change. I believe that a return could have been on the cards had he not been ruled out because of the blood clot damaging his pre-season. Townsend on the other hand has been subject of a betting charge and has pulled out of the under 21s tournament this summer. Both possible signings but recent events could have put a spanner in the works. 

7 - Kenwyn Jones - Stoke - Premier League

Stories in January were rife with speculation that Jones was signing for Swansea, it came just as Swansea were about to play Stoke as well and surrounded the whole event. Kenwyn is in the same form as Lukaku but is more established but in that respect much older. Whereas Lukaku has more raw talent and younger. What he offers is strength and power and he wins a fair share of headers and can retain the ball. He hardly got a look in towards the latter end of Stoke's season and his work rate and passing ability has been questioned. Could possible relight this transfer in the summer especially with Swansea's need for attackers.

8 - Bradley Johnson - Norwich City - Premier League

What Swansea lack in essence is a midfielder who makes a lot of tackles and will get among the midfield and really impose his mark. Bradley Johnson is someone who could offer that and Norwich were quick to deny reports at the end of the season that he was on Swansea's radar. Johnson like Snodgrass for Norwich are two players who really put themselves about and it's something Swansea lack perhaps being too nice at times. Norwich put in some huge performances this season and Johnson was key to this. A grafter in the midfield allows the more creative players a licence to roam. Could be possible subject to other players.

9 - Marcus Alonso - Bolton Wanderers - Npower Championship

An old story here which was possible in January but seems faltering now with the emergence of Ben Davies and the form of Dwight Tiendalli could scupper that move but it could still be one to watch. The Ex Real Madrid youngster has been a huge player for Bolton in past seasons including their Championship push. He has experience at the top level but with Swansea having the luxury of having two full backs on both sides it's something they don't have to worry about as opposed to before this season.

10 - Arouna Kone - Wigan Athletic - Npower Championship

Arouna Kone has been one of the success stories at Wigan alongside the front three of Shaun Maloney and Callum Mcmanaman. 13 goals this season and his ability to retain ball and run the channels has been vitally important. Wigan won the FA cup but also got relegated in the same season, a stat never achieved before. Kone has that bit of pace, almost an element of Obafemi Martins, interestingly both played for Levante. Swansea have always had pace throughout the side but never a striker and this could be a possible signing especially with Wigan needing to offload players to balance the books. Great season for the Ivorian despite what has happened elsewhere.

All these possible signings I've acknowledged from newspaper reports and articles in the past year, remember these are just possible signings and just from what I've seen.

Much appreciated
Daniel John

Thursday, 23 May 2013

My Lions Starting 15 For First Test - Australia

British and Irish Lions Starting 15

1( Loose Head Prop) - Cian Healy

- Cian Healy gets the first test birth on a few reasons really, he has tasted success over Australia in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, this alone gives him an edge over rivals. Being destructive in the loose and his scrummaging is constantly improving means he should be sure to get the starting spot. Interesting here to see how the battle for this place gets going. Gethin Jenkins will have the advantage because you can be sure he will start against the Barbarians in Hong Kong so he has an early opportunity to nail down a place. If he can replicate his form in past season it will be a great battle, loads of rugby being played before then.

2(Hooker) - Richard Hibbard

- Richard Hibbard is one of those players who sets by example in his play, the no nonscense hooker has arguable had his best season this year although injuries have played a key part he has been destructive. In the Heineken Cup he was monstrous against teams like Toulouse and Leicester. This guy puts in the hard yards, he averages at least 10 carries a game which gives his side a platform. His competition comes in the form of England double act Dylan Hartley and Tom Youngs. I'm actually quite suprised that these two players were picked purely because Hartley hasn't been involved with England recently so his form for Northampton has been key here. Also Tom Youngs is quite new at this level, i would have thought perhaps Ross Ford or at least Rory Best who was the huge ommission. 

3(Tight Head Prop - Adam Jones

- Looking at this position you could say bar injury his place is already secured regardless of performance. Adam Jones in my opinion is the best number 3 in the world, his ability to scrummage is unmatched and he essentially carries the ball well as well. Something which you might not notice is the fact he's a ball player. He will often act as first reciever to lure players in and pass the ball on. It's a great ploy and only works because of the skill set of the dark haired Jones brother.

4(Lock) - Alyn-Wyn Jones 

- My side might be biased towards the Welsh but when you look at what they have won at International level then you can't disagree with these positions. AWJ for short was mesmeric when he came back from injury in the Six Nations and almost inspired his side through some tough games, away to Italy and France. We all know the engine he has to hit rucks and provide a platform in the scrum. His greatest skill though is similar to Adam Jones. If he's not taking balls in the air he's offloading one handed on the floor. His experience could also be vital.

5(Lock) - Paul O' Connell

- This position is highly fought for in fairness, Both Ian Evans, Geoff Parling and Richie Gray have both had sterling seasons. POC didn't play for the majority of the season, but turned up just after the Six Nations and gave a monumental performance in the HC quarter final clash with Harlequins. The game was a close one but Munster just had that class to stay ahead purely down to the inspirational POC who not only galvanised his troops but also carried the ball unbelievably well as well as taking some huge catches from the sky.

6(Flanker) - Dan Lydiate

- Another biased call maybe but his work rate is unbelievable. Another player who missed the majority of the season but perhaps this will work in his advantage because he is coming into this tour with a freshness and energy which will be vastly important. The only rival for this position in my opinion would be Sam Warbutton because of that mans success with Justin Tipuric in the Six Nations clash with England. Sean O Brien and Tom Croft can also play this position but it would lose the balance of the back row in essence. Dan Lydiate makes a large amount of tackles, hits many rucks and is a towering figure at lineout time. A great asset to have for Warren Gatland. Player of the Six Nations 2012. 

7(Flanker) - Sam Warbutton

- First things first, I'm a huge advocate for Justin Tipuric, he really has been the player of the season for the Ospreys and Wales, if it was up to me I would have picked him. Sam Warbutton will start for many reasons, the first being the main, he is the captain of the tour. WG is not going to bench his captain after showing so much faith in him. Also he has a great relationship with Sam and in turn Sam has a great relationship with referee's well excluding Alain Rolland but that's a different story. Sean O Brien again is a contender for this as well as Tipuric but being the captain and his ability at the breakdown will give Sam Warbutton the edge. 

8(Number Eight) - Toby Faletau

- Here's the dilemma, you could easily pick Jamie Heaslip in this purely on reputation which is why he's on the tour anyway although his form has hardly lit the world on fire. The ever verstaile Sean O Brien will also fit into the equation here because he carries the ball well and has a great amount of pace, as does Tom Croft actually but it's not their natural position and the same idea for their own countries hasn't really paid off. At least with an all Welsh back row it's familar and also effective just look at the Rugby World Cup 2011. It shows how strong the squad is that unbelievable athletes like Tom Croft and SOB missing out. 

9(Scrum Half) - Ben Youngs

- I'm going for a suprise choice here, Ben Youngs is a flair scrum half and offers that pace from the ruck that's going to be crucial in OZ. Mike Phillips is a strong scrum half yes but even he struggled in the Six Nations. His strength is well his strength which the Aussies will relish. It's going to be a quick game and tempo will be key and that's why i've gone with Youngs. His passing is good but his ability to run from deep and his pace around the breakdown will be huge. Slight problem is his base kicking but i'm sure it will improve with coaching. Conor Murray isn't picked purely because he offers the same characteristics as Phillips.

10(Fly Half) - Johnathan Sexton

- Only a choice of two here, Owen Farell is a great fly half albeit a young one first of all. If the Lions were employing a safe kicking game and playing for terratory then Farell would already be donning the shirt. The Aussies will want to play a running game and it's going to need to be matched on the gainline which is why Sexton will start. When on form and injury permitting Sexton brings the best out of all his backline and the set moves that he executes will be key to unlocking the Australian rigid defence. 

11(Winger) - George North

- George North will definitely be picked purely on reputation and for the fact Gatland has a preference for strong build wingers. North has hardly covered himself in glory this season with him coming into games in bits and parts. His winner against France a glimpse of his ability but not showed throughout the Six Nations but if he can rediscover form then he will be tough to stop in fairness. His welsh compatriot Alex Cuthbert would surely voice for his place as well. In the Six Nations consistency was key in Cuthbert's game with tries in key moments. It's going to be a tough decision here, probably the toughest in the squad. 

12(Inside Centre) - Jamie Roberts

- The Star player of the 2009 Lions Tour is surely a shoe in to start the test. His direct running and his hard hitting demenour will ensure he's going to be integral to breaking the advantage line. Also Jamie Roberts is a smart man himself which means he will be important in reading the game and being the defensive general that WG will employ to shackle the Aussie backs. A key reason for being picked as well is his partnership with my other choice at outside centre. Manu Tulagi will be disappointed not to start but with experience on Roberts side you can guarantee he will be there bar injury. 

13(Outside Centre) - Brian O Driscoll 

- As I mentioned the veteran who is in his last year or two of his rugby career. BOD is an unbelievable centre and his partnership with Roberts in South Africa will have a huge bearing on this tour as well. The chemistry that they had and the fact they complimented each others styles worked a treat. BOD showed in the Six Nations that despite not having the pace he still has an unbelievable skill set whether it be at the breakdown stealing the ball or creating a try out of nothing. His experience and leadership will be key to support Sam Warbutton as captain.

14(Winger) - Tommy Bowe

- I've gone with Bowe on this one because of essentially the South Africa tour in 2009. Sean Maitland will provide stiff competition because he's had a superb season and was instrumental alongside Hogg in turning Scotland into an attacking force. Bowe starts on the fact he has experience on the tour and also knows his way to the tryline and cuts the angles that will be key to unlocking the Aussie defence. He's had an injury hit season but just like many players that might work to his advantage as he will be fresh for the run in here. Another key asset for Tommy Bowe is the fact he not only scores tries but also creates them. Gifted skillset is vitally important. 

15(Full Back) - Leigh Halfpenny

- Here is a player who is assured of his test spot, Numerous reasons for this. First one is his goal kicking if Sexton isn't picked to of course. The man named Mr Reliable never makes any mistakes particularly major ones, for a small player he takes numerous high balls under pressure but also runs/kicks it back with aplomb. He's not a player who comes into the line very often but his consistency and confidence made him the RBS Six Nations 2013 player of the tournament. Although he's not as sharp attackingly as Stuart Hogg or even Rob Kearney. It's the fact his defence and general reliability makes him odds on to start. His kicking out of hand alongside Rob Kearney will be a huge duel in the battle for 15 but my money's on Leigh Halfpenny.

Players unlucky to miss out:
-Tom Croft
-Manu Tulagi
-Justin Tipuric
-Stuart Hogg
-Johnathan Davies
-Gethin Jenkins
-Mike Phillips

The tour will be a superb advocate for the British and Irish Lions and will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for some of these players. Here's a video showing the last lions tour to South Africa in 2009 - Enjoy

Daniel John

Thursday, 9 May 2013

SAF Retires - Moyes In

It's with great sadness that Sir Alex Ferguson has retired from football, yes he had the occasional spat with a referee or an opposite manager but he leaves a huge mark in the world of football. It's a shame that he had to bow out because his record will be unmatched. The aura he put over Manchester United will be forever visible. Let's not forget the man has won 49 trophies with United, yes he had a strong side at his disposal but it wasn't the case straight away. Before he came to United he started with East Sterlingshire and then St. Mirren in Scotland. It took him 3 years to win the league but for such a small club in comparison to Rangers/Celtic it was the first historic achievement in a chapter full of them to come.

The following season St.Mirren finished a lowly 8th, such a huge decline from champions to 8th so he left for Aberdeen. His first season wasn't rewarding but it was a 4th place finish which was huge at the time. Following season rewarded another title for SAF. 2 titles in 6 years isn't a bad start let's be honest. The following three years didn't yield sucess in the league but did in the cup which showed Ferguson had a flavour for the cup as well. He won the Scottish cup three years in a row with the last of those coming in his latest league success in 83-84. The year before he had done a stupendous effort in winning the UEFA cup winners cup for Aberdeen, his stock was rising slowly and people were starting to take notice. 83-84 will go down as his greatest triumph in Scotland by not only taking the league and cup double but also winning the UEFA Super Cup as well by beating sides like Bayern Munich in the quarter final and of course the mighty Real Madrid 2-1 in the final itself. 

Sir Alex Ferguson was to have 3 more seasons with his native club and in that time he won the league once more and a cup double the following season in 1986. He finished that league in 4th which was poor considering what he had already won. He was 5th in the 86-87 season when Manchester United came calling, Spurs also appealed to SAF but he went on to choose United and David Pleat went to White Hart Lane. He steered United to an 11th placed finish which nowadays was unheard of but this was the start of things to come. The following season in 87-88 he brought United to their best finish in a decade when they finished runners in the Premier League, there was no cup success at this time. Ferguson was slowly building a family and a fortress at Old Trafford. It was only until 1989-90 that he took United to his first FA cup final where he won it against Crystal Palace in a Wembley return courtesy of a winner by Lee Martin. 

What happened next was extraordinary it was like De Ja Vu all over again, the following season he won the UEFA Cup Winners cup and the season after done the same thing he did with Aberdeen and won the UEFA Super Cup the year later. SAF was on the world map and in only 15 years. It was league success that United fans wanted at that time and the season after it was duly delivered. In the 9 years to come leading in the turning of the decade in 2000. Sir Alex Ferguson vowed to knock Liverpool off their perch and take over them in terms of league titles. 7 in 9 years and 2 runners up medals is almost unheard of. Success breeds success in football. 

The Treble!

His biggest success and something he will always be remembered by is the Treble he won in the 98-99 season it was monumental because although the domestic cup was routine and expected it was the triumph in the league and Europe which propelled him into stardom. They were trailing leaders Arsenal all through the season and yet managed to nick it towards the latter end of the season, a classic smash and grab but what endurance to even get that far. It's just the start of things to come, that infamous tie against Bayern Munich in the final where United came back from 1-0 to win 2-1 courtesy of a late winner by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The semi final prior was no walk in the park as United labored to a 1-1 draw at home to Juventus but managed to steal a 3-2 away win in Turin courtesy of an Andy Cole winner. It was to be the start of United's never say die attitude. This in my opinion is his greatest triumph and will never be replicated. 

Manchester United went on to win 13 Premier League's in the SAF era, the FA cup 5 times, Community shield 10 times and the League cup 4 times. That's 32 trophies just domestically in 26 years. More than one every year. In Europe he won the Champions League twice and also won the European Cup Winners cup once and the European Super cup once. Add that to the Intercontinental cup and FIFA Club World Cup and you've got yourself a legend and surely the greatest manager that has ever been in the game. It's been unbelievable watching him not only push himself but his team each and every year. To have motivation and the ability to succeed not only through the good times but also the bad ones. Look no further than last season when Man City claimed their first title in 30 years. Ferguson strengthened and strolled to the league this year with 4 games to spare. Desire and hunger unmatched at any level. 

Sir Alex Ferguson will always be known as a winner but let's not forget he's a nurturer of player and talent here are some players he's brought onto the world stage.

David Beckham

Eric Cantona

Paul Scholes

Ryan Giggs

Cristiano Ronaldo

Wayne Rooney

There isn't a manager in the world that can match the amount of talent SAF has brought on which is why he goes down as the best manager the world has seen. I've had the pleasure of watching his progress and it's been momentous to see him not only manage but also retire. I and every football fan around the world wish him all the best in his future endeavors. A legend has walked away from the game but at least on his own terms. 

Also a mention of word to David Moyes who Sir Alex Ferguson tried to sign as an assistant manager in 98 from Preston. It could be an astute replacement but only time will tell. One thing is for sure he will never match his predeccesor. They are both tared with the same brush and ilk. Moyes has done wonders with an unbelievably tight budget and squad, now is his time to stand up prove himself at the highest level. Next season will be interesting purely because of one reason and that is that SAF isn't at the dugout anymore. He simply protected his family in Manchester United. Yes he picked up many offences for strong words against referee's and other managers/icons, but what we must remembered he was only defending his family vociferously and wouldn't we do the same?

Goodnight, Take care
Best Wishes SAF
Much Appreciated 
Daniel John

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Are Spain really faltering or are Germany becoming dominant?

It was ideal when both Champions League semi finals pitted Spanish clubs up against German counterparts. We could really see how far these clubs have come and where they would go from here. It's hard to say who had the tougher tie because of the fact Bayern and Barca are both giants in the European game and have such a measured foundation to build on. On the other hand there's Dortmund and Madrid, we all know the history hanging over Mourinho's side in contrast to a young side with plenty of ambition.

Watching Bayern completely dismantle Barcelona in the first tie was horrible to watch because we are so used to seeing the Catalonians pleasuring the crowd with their style. I said to myself watching it that it looked like boys against men because in essence it's true. Look at the physical stature of players like Pedro, Messi, Iniesta in comparison to Muller, Gomez and Robben. Not only are the latter taller players but also stronger on the ball. Is it relevant?, well not usually but when they possess the same talent on the ball as the smaller contingent you think is the game drifting away from smaller players. Set piece is as important as ever. Height and weight seems to be everything in the modern game and it's not just football either, look at rugby, wingers used to be slight and tricky now they are powerful and fast because it's ever changing. Same with tennis, Federer was slight and used his grace to place his shots, nowadays look at Djokovic and Nadal and even Murray it's all about the power in forehand and backhand and just being generally quick around the court.

Anyway back on hand, Bayern put Barcelona to the sword with goals from Muller, Robben and Gomez, as I mentioned all tall players especially when you look at the goals aside from Robben's invidivual effort, all the rest happened to be physical and based on height. Barcelona there's no hiding are a small side, if you take out Pique, Busquets, Bartra then you take out the tallest players in the side, let's be honest Pedro, Messi, Villa, Xavi, Iniesta and Sanchez as brilliant as they are will not win headers and it's a major part of the game. Barca play the perfect game when the ball is in play although perhaps lacking cutting edge recently but once they win a corner/freekick that can't be shot at goal you just know it's going to result in the same result, Zilch.

This is not to say Barcelona are done for, by no means, they will come back stronger from this even if they get eliminated tonight. All great teams go through struggle before success. They just need to invest in some height whether it be up front, someone like Llorente would have been ideal. Or someone on the wings or in midfield and push Iniesta forward. Bayern had a few trump cards going into their leg, they had an established side, with momentum, physical attributes and also technical and a superb coach to guide them. Barca simply had no answer.

On the other hand last night I gazed upon one of the greatest Champions League nights in recent history, Dortmund did to Madrid what Bayern did to Barca, they completely dominated them and took their chances efficiently and closed up shop. Dortmund won 4-1 in Germany and instantly you're thinking Madrid will do well to come back from this but yet it almost happened last night and here's why?

Dortmund 4 Madrid 1

Robert Lewandowski was instrumental in guiding Dortmund to their historic success at home but yet was slightly influential in this tie and not taking the chances that he got presented with. Yes, he rattled the crossbar but with the talent he showed in the first leg you would have expected him to put a vulnerable Madrid to the sword and yet it was tighter than first imagined on the night.

In the first ten minutes of the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu there could have been 3 goals had Higuin, Ozil and most notably Ronaldo found their composure, because of this Dortmund weather the storm with the impressive young partnership of Mats Hummels and Nevan Subotic. Composure and coolness was on the menu at the back after that. Had Lewandowski and Reus found the net on the counter it could have been all but lights out but no. This was all going on despite Bayern bound Mario Gotze leaving the pitch to injury mid-way through the first half.

It never looked like becoming a struggle for the German champions until first Benzema bundles in after 82 minutes and then Sergio Ramos bundling in a strikers finish from the same man. Ronaldo had an appeal for a penalty following a slightly debatable challenge from substitute Felipe Santana but it was curtain for Mourinho and perhaps his Real career, a success maybe? but still he gave his biggest hint yet that he could be heading to Stamford Bridge, where he is 'loved'. La Liga is losing a huge asset and the Premier League gaining one but noone can doubt the man's ability and passion and also the superb tie that both sides put on last night. Best wishes to Dortmund in the final most likely to come up against their German counterparts, comiserations to Madrid and hope life after Mourinho is bright. The Champions League gives us moments like these which should be treasured and that's why football is truly spectacular.

Much appreciated

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Suarez - One Thing After Another

Suarez at it again
Controversy just seems to follow him around. Ever since signing from Ajax for around 23 million, his indiscretions have overshadowed Liverpool's fall and rise to the top of English football. A gifted player, no doubt yet why would you throw your career away for meaningless idiocrasy. Luis Suarez is now 26 you just can't make excuses for this anymore. He's not a teenager or a child anymore, he should be in control of his own actions and try to change himself instead of hiding under the cloud of Anfield. He was nominated for PFA player of the year by his fellow professionals which means they value his ability as everyone else does but surely someone should not pick up an award when he constantly sets a bad example for younger viewers who aspire to be as good as these players.

Interesting fact - On his debut for Uruguay in 2006 he was sent off for two yellow cards in the 8th minute surely the start of it all.

Another one - In 2007 Luis Suarez was fined alongside Albert Luque for an altercation at Ajax in the dressing room, struggling to get on with others.

Infamous hand of god incident

Suarez v Ghana - Unbelievable
The incident which broke hearts all around the world, it was the quarter final of the World Cup in 2010, Luis Suarez took it upon himself to use his hand to prevent the ball going in and being sent off in the process. The penalty was missed by Asamoah Gyan and was the turning point in the game, despite being down to 10 men, Uruguay held out and won in the penalty shootout. It was a heartbreaking moment although the circumstances defended him on this one, it was still despicable.

Where it all began?

Let's not forget when he was at Ajax it's where the first public incident in his controversial club career occured. On his last ever game for Ajax before he left he bit PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal just near the shoulder and received a 7 match ban, what we must remember is this was only two years ago. It's starting to become a recurring theme.

Luis Saurez - Otman Bakkal

Diving and Finger Pointing

What we already know is that although he's a gifted player his ability to cause chaos at the back is unmatched at any level. It's a shame his behaviour dictates how people know him as a player, Infamously when playing against West Brom Suarez went down easily under a tackle from Jerome Thomas where Paul Scharner claimed the striker had tried a 'nice dive' this was the first of many cases. If this wasn't already a problem add that to the fact he made a finger gesture towards home fans at an away game against Fulham and suddenly it's becoming a scourge and a problem not only for the Premier League but Liverpool Football Club.

Racism Row

Luis Suarez was starting to finally calm down when the incident with United left back Patrice Evra caused him the headlines again. Whether you believe what happened or not the fact that he was involved is not a suprise and it's starting to become more than an inconvenience each time. Suarez was fined and banned for 8 matches. Apparently he used a racist slur ten times.

Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra Race row

Let's look more recently...

FA CUP - Mansfield v Liverpool

This year in the FA cup Liverpool were playing Mansfield away now bearing in mind this side are non league status it's hard to see why Suarez would need to get involved. Well he could have chosen to empty his conscience and leave it up to his team mates to rally round him but he chose the back handed way just like against Ghana. He caressed the ball when it bounced up into him and used it to his advantage to knock it past the keeper and tuck the ball away. It's a clear handball, how it wasn't given is a tragedy and another case of poor officiating this season.  Brendan Rodgers claimed it was up to the officials and not Suarez himself to own up but you think with a record as bad as his there would be an element of apology involved but no.You could again make an arguement for the fact any player would do it to get their side through but it's not is it. There's a difference between the World Cup and the last 32 in the FA Cup.

Luis Suarez v Mansfield

So what happens next?, Well according to reports Suarez is being heavily linked with Borussia Dortmund as a replacement for Mario Goetze. Luis Suarez feels he is being victimized and so do Liverpool but it's getting to the stage where it's becoming almost okay to cheat and what does that do to youngsters watching the game thinking that. He either needs to clean up his attitude and behaviour or leave the Premier League, either way something needs to happen.

Also a little mention to both German clubs in the Champions League who outthought and outmuscled their Spanish neighbours. Bayern winning 4-0 at home to a lacklustre Barcelona and Dortmund impressively defeating Real Madrid in Germany, both huge results for clubs on the up but what of the losers on the night....

Much Appreciated

Thomas Muller

Robert Lewandowski