Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

English Premier League Round Up – Week 3

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This week’s round of premier league matches provided us with a few big games. Whilst it didn’t provide as many goals as we expect from the premier league this early in the season, we still got to see some goalmouth action. Manchester United and Liverpool always proves to be one of the biggest match ups of the season, and Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs playing out the always hotly contested North London Derby.

We kicked off the weekend with Manchester City defeating Hull City. Joe Hart, who has been heavily criticized after a woeful performance against Cardiff City, came back from the brink with a clean sheet. Second half goals from Alvaro Negredo and Yaya Toure were enough to see off the Tigers.

The big games were played on Sunday night, with Manchester United visiting Anfield on the 100th anniversary of Bill Shankly’s birth. Right after a touching tribute to Liverpool’s greatest manager, Danny Sturridge put one past David de Gea in the fourth minute. United were unable to come back from the deficit, conceding to Liverpool’s third win on the trot – the best start to a Premier League season for the Merseyside club since 1994.

Arsenal faced a tough challenge as Spurs came to visit from up the road. A game that is always considered one of the hardest fought fixtures in the calendar was taken out in a scrap but the team in red. In form striker Oliver Giroud fired a well placed shot into the bottom right corner of the Tottenham goal. That proved to be the crucial goal in the tie.

The week’s fixtures leave Liverpool atop the table as the only team to collect full honors from all three matches. Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal tie up the rest of the top four. Tottenham and Manchester United are left a little behind the eight ball in sixth and seventh spots respectively.

Premier League Week 3 Results

Manchester City 2-0 Hull City

West Ham 0-1 Stoke

Norwich 1-0 Southhampton

Newcastle 1-0 Fulham

Cardiff 0-0 Everton

Crystal Palace 3-1 Sunderland

West Brom 0-2 Swansea

Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United

Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham Hotspurs.

FIFA World Cup 2014 – The rush for match tickets

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The hype has already begun regarding the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with the first batch of nearly one million tickets going out on sale. An interesting fact that came to light was that many Australians are planning to make the trip next year, with our nation being amongst the top five nations applying.

Tickets went on sale at 10am GMT (8 pm AEST) and the mad rush for seats saw nearly 82 thousand requests for tickets go out in the first hour.

The tickets will be categorized, with at least 300 thousand tickets being regarded as ‘Category 4’, reserved for “those over 60 years of age, students and recipients of the Bolsa Familia family grant”, stated FIFA on it’s official website. Those tickets, costing between $16.55 and $91, are available only to Brazilian nationals.

Categories 1-3 are available to foreigners, but cost significantly more. The opening match, which will surely feature Brazil, will see tickets range between $243 and $546, while the Grand Final in Rio de Janeiro will set you back a minimum of $485, or up to $1092.

Considering most will need to add an airfare and accommodation to the flight, it seems the Brazilian economy will be receiving a boost over the coming year.

The current influx of interest in tickets means that the chance of gaining a ticket is unlikely. FIFA’s press office made the following statement.

“The respective ticket product is already heavily oversubscribed and therefore, at the point in time, the success of the application appears unlikely…There are vastly more ticket applicants seeking tickets than there are tickets presently available for the general public”

The most surprising thing about this may be the fact that, so far, only five nations have qualified for the World Cup finals. The final draw for the competition will take place on the 6th of December.

New English Premier League Season! Week 1 wrap up.

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The English Premier League kicked off for the new season over the weekend. The first round of games provided fans with a wide range of results, some more expected than others.

The opening match was played between Liverpool and Stoke City, with the Reds taking away a 1-0 win against the Potters. The efforts of new Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet were pushed into the limelight with a heroic late penalty save which saved the points.

League champions Manchester United kicked off their campaign away from home at the Liberty Stadium, playing against Swansea. No one was surprised when United came away from that game with an emphatic 4-1 win, with Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck scoring doubles to seal the points. This match was the first league game for new manager David Moyes, who was thrilled with his side’s performance, stating that he senses a ‘winning habit’ throughout the squad.

Title contenders Manchester City and Chelsea also notched convincing wins, defeating Newcastle United and Hull City respectively.

The real shock came at the Emirates Stadium where Arsenal was defeated 1-3 by Aston Villa. Manager Arsene Wenger came under increasing pressure following the result, with some fans calling for his head after a so far silent transfer period. Wenger defended his side by questioning some crucial decisions made by referee Anthony Taylor.

“I didn’t like his performance, but more than his performance I didn’t like his spirit of how he refereed the game,” said Wenger in reference to Taylor.

The final match of the gameweek concludes with Chelsea and Aston Villa playing their second game of the week at 4.45am Thursday morning.

Results 

West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Southampton

Sunderland 0-1 Fulham

Norwich City 2-2 Everton

Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa

Liverpool 1-0 Stoke City

Swansea City 1-4 Manchester United

West Ham 2-0 Cardiff City

Chelsea 2-0 Hull City Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Hotspurs

Manchester City 4-0 Newcastle United.

Chelsea vs Aston Villa 21/8/2013 19:45 (04:45 AEST)

Community Shield – Manchester United vs Wigan Athletic

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Sunday afternoon gave us the official kick off to the English football season with the traditional Community Shield. This season saw last years FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic play against Premier League Champions Manchester United. Wigan, who actually was relegated at the end of last season hold an unusual position in being the first team in years to play in the game and not be in the highest tier of English Football. The game also saw new Manchester United boss David Moyes open his account in his first competitive game in charge.

The game saw United pick up their 16th Community Shield in a 2-0 win over their Greater Manchester rivals.

Star striker Robin van Persie picked up where he left off last season with a sixth minute header into the back of the Wigan net after a beautifully floated cross from the left from Patrice Evra.

After an hour where United were dominant over their English Championship rivals, van Persie put away another to seal the game. A delightful passing move involving Welbeck, Cleverly and Evra was finished with the Dutchman drilling the ball towards goal and finding the net after a large deflection off defender James Perch.

The game was brilliant for the Red Devil’s confidence after a generally underwhelming pre season, which saw them travel to Asia and Australia.

David Moyes, rather than basking in the glory of winning his first trophy, quickly dedicated the win to previous manager and club legend Sir Alex Ferguson.

“This trophy is for Sir Alex, so if he is sitting at home and watching today, this is for you Sir Alex and for the way your team performed last season and won the Premier League”

Despite the win, however, fans of the Lancashire club were worried about the absence of Wayne Rooney from the starting line up, fueling speculation that he may be heading out of Old Trafford this season.

United open their Premier League account next Saturday with a Trip to Swansea, whilst Wigan continue their championship against AFC Bournemouth.

 

Manchester United 2 – 0 Wigan Athletic (van Persie 6’, 59’)

Sunday 11th of August

Wembley Stadium.

Crowd: 80, 235.

Socceroos to play Brazil and France

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The Australian Socceroos are set to pit itself against some of the best in the world in preparation for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next year. The Football Federation of Australia are ready to line up a match against the world class hosts for September, and are expected to do the same against France during October’s double FIFA match window.

It is expected that the Socceroos huge match up against the Brazilians will be staged at the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia on Brazil’s independence day, the 8th of September. This match will be the seventh meeting between the two nations, with Brazil being overwhelming favourites to win. The last meeting between the two sides was during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, when Brazil scored two second half goals to put away the then Guus Hiddink managed Socceroos.

It’s also understood that the FFA have also lined up matches against two European internationals in October, one of them being France. The Les Bleus currently trails Spain in Group I in its bid to gain an automatic qualification spot for Brazil 2014.

The last time Australia faced France was during the 2001 Confederations Cup, where the Socceroos prevailed 1-0 in the Korean Republic before a 1-1 draw in Melbourne. The game, in hindsight, may have been considered a practice match ahead of the Socceroos world cup qualifier against Uruguay.

These two games, plus the second European friendly, will give the Socceroos some much needed training against world-class opposition before the 2014 tournament. Both sides are expected to put forward full strength squads .

The 2013 Confederation’s Cup winners will play Australia as part of a sequence of high profile international friendlies in preparation for the World Cup, beginning on the 14th of September against Switzerland. Brazil will face Portugal just three days after the tie with the Socceroos.

Schwarzer moves to Chelsea leaving doubts about Socceroos Future

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Mark Schwarzer’s recent move to Chelsea has poised questions over his future as Australia’s go to number 1. Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho, has stated however that he is sure Schwarzer will get ample game time next season.

Schwarzer’s move to Chelsea has raised issues regarding the future of the 40 year old goalkeeper, especially in taking a role at Chelsea behind long standing number 1 Petr Cech. It is expected that he will spend much of the 2013/14 season on the bench.

Conversations between Mourinho and Australia manager Holger Osieck indicate that during the negotiations of Schwarzer’s signing, there was much assurance that the veteran shot-stopper would be getting time between the sticks.

“What he (Schwarzer) told me was when he agreed to sign for Chelsea, his signature was based on conversations with Mourinho, that he obviously promised to give him sufficient playing time because of the great number of games Chelsea has to play, in the league, in various cups and of course in Europe,” Osieck stated.

Schwarzer has no intention of just sitting back and relaxing this season. He has full intention to try and knock Cech off the number 1 spot.

“When I signed for Chelsea, I knew they had top quality goalkeepers, and the competition for a starting place would be tough” he said during the Blues pre-season tour of Malaysia. “But with hard work and good performances, I can show that I am good enough to play in the first eleven”.

The Australian squad holds a number young and emerging goalkeeping talents looking to pick Schwarzer off the top spot. The recent East Asian Cup in Seoul saw Nathan Coe, Mark Birighitti and Eugene Galekovic show off to the German manager, despite a tournament performance that would only be seen as a failure by Australian standards.

 Amongst the greater host of goalkeepers fighting for a Socceroos call up is Reading’s Adam Federici, Borussia Dortmund’s Mitch Langerak and young talent Mat Ryan, who moved to Belgian side Club Brugge after helping the Central Coast Mariners win the A-League last season.

When speaking of the competition for the goalkeeper spot, Osieck stated that “… it’s going to be a tight race” indicating that Schwarzer will have to work hard to keep his spot in the national squad. Schwarzer, though, has indicated that he wishes to retire after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, meaning that Osieck will need to look for long term replacements.

 

Gareth Bale – Is he on the move to Spain?

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Tottenham Hotspur superstar Gareth Bale has been tipped with a move away from White Hart Lane this summer, with the latest rumours indicating that he may be on route to join Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee.

The Welshman, who joined Spurs in 2007, has been itching for a move to the Bernabeu and is begging Tottenham’s Chairman, Daniel Levy, to accept the offer. Real Madrid have indicated that they are willing to put forward a whopping 86 million pounds ($145 million AUD) for the forward. This record fee is 6 million more than they paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

The 24-year-old forward has been out with injury for Hotspurs pre-season friendlies in China and has such been without any proper preparation for the upcoming premier league season. Tottenham Manager Andre Villas-Boas has indicated that Bale may be available for this Saturday’s friendly with Monaco in France, though it is uncertain whether the player will feature.

Bale has indicated that he is ready and raring for the move. In an interview with the Guardian Bale says that he is not afraid to leave the country.

“I left home at 15 (to join Southampton’s academy). If I leave the Premier League, I’ll learn another language: I will grow as a person”.

Former Tottenham manager David Pleat believes that the man is still too young for a big move to the Spanish super giants.

“I think He’s a little too young to go abroad… I doubt he’ll find it easy. Many have failed when they have moved overseas… I think it might be better if he stayed, continued to work and maybe next summer leave if that is his wish”.

Iker Casillas, captain of Real Madrid, has been enticing Bale to make the move stating that he is “one of the top three or four players in Europe”.

Former England Striker Michael Owen, who transferred to Real Madrid after leaving Liverpool, moved back to England with Newcastle United just one year after the move.

“Any player going from over here to Spain, it’s a lot different to what you imagine. It’s a slow pace of life. I was in a hotel for six months with a young child. It’s very difficult. You need to get a lot of things in order off the pitch. I’d be surprised if he (Bale) went this year”.

Something that must be considered is Tottenham’s recent track record regarding big names leaving the club. In 2006 Spurs were adamant to keep Michael Carrick at the club, but he ended up moving to Manchester United for 19 million pounds. An agitated Dimitar Berbatov made the same move in a deadline day 30 million pounds transfer in 2008. Similarly, Spurs lost Luka Modric to Real Madrid for 30 million pounds. Levy would have to work hard to keep Bale at White Hart Lane.

Edinson Cavani – PSG announces new big name signing

Uruguay's soccer player Cavani presents his new jersey after a news conference at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris

Paris Saint-Germain has officially unveiled the signing of the highly rated Napoli striker Edinson Cavani for a French record fee of 64 million Euros ($92 million AUD).

Cavani has been linked with a number of European clubs over the past few months, with Real Madrid and Manchester City also showing great interest in the Uruguay front man. PSG however stepped up their hunt over the past few weeks and announced the mega signing on it’s official website.

A delighted Cavani spoke at a press conference, thanking everyone who was involved in his transfer from the Serie A. “I come here with lots of joy, lots of confidence, lots of hunger and lots of motivation to win major trophies” he said.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi also spoke highly of the player, and also raved about the powerful presence that PSG holds. “The arrival of Edinson Cavani demonstrates the ability of the club to attract the best players in the world,” he stated.

Al-Khelaifi also thanked outgoing PSG Sporting Director Leonardo for his role in acquiring the big name striker. “A big thank you to Leo, he’s done a great job here for the past two years” he announced.

Cavani has been drawing attention all over Europe over the last few years since his transfer to Napoli from rivals Palermo in 2010. He has scored 104 goals in his time there and in addition was the Serie A’s top goal scorer last season with 29 goals.

Since 2011, after it’s purchase by Qatar Investment Authority, PSG has made a range of big money signings, earning them the Ligue 1 title last season. Cavani will join the likes of Marco, Werratti, Lucas Moura, Javier Pastore, Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with whom Cavani hopes to form a deadly partnership with. New boss Laurent Blanc hopes that the big names can work together to form a competitive team in Europe.

Rooney – is his future away from Manchester United?

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Manchester United are currently facing a battle to keep star striker Wayne Rooney on their playing roster for the future. With the arrival Robin van Persie from Arsenal last season, Rooney has been facing increasing pressure to keep his spot spearheading the United Attack.

Currently touring Asia and Australia on their pre-season tour, Manchester United boss David Moyes has made comments that have left Rooney ‘confused and angry’.

When addressing the press in Bangkok, Moyes said “Overall, my thought on Wayne is that if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie we are going to need him and I want as many options as possible”. The comment, quite understandably, has gone down badly.

Rooney sees himself at the peak of his career, and at 27 years of age he still has a lot to offer. He has no desire to play second fiddle to van Persie, and believes he deserves a regular starting place in his favourite position up front. With four premier league titles and a UEFA champion’s league medal around his neck, Rooney may feel that he has proven himself at United and has little more to offer.

Rooney left the current traveling squad due to a hamstring injury acquired at training and has returned to England, disappointing thousands of Australian Manchester United fans that were looking forward to seeing him play.

Moyes, who recently took over after club legend Sir Alex Ferguson called his retirement at the end of last season, is continuously reiterating that he has no intention of letting Wayne Rooney go – “Unless I was speaking double Dutch last week, we said Wayne Rooney is not for sale”.

The current environment has fed rumours linking Rooney with French cash cows Paris Saint-Germian, along with direct Premier League rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. Whilst United does hold a policy to never sell players to rival teams, this would be a stance hard pressed to hold in the situation.

Manchester United & Liverpool Australian Tour 2013

This season, the football offseason is going to be an exciting one for football fans in Australia. During a period of a few months in which football fans generally weep over the lack of action, the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) have worked their magic and convinced two of England’s football super giants to play on our shores. The current premier league champions, Manchester United, and fan favorite club, Liverpool, will be pitting their best against the best the A-League has to offer.

The first match takes place on the 20th of July at Sydney’s ANZ stadium, where Manchester United take on the A-League All stars – A team comprising of the A-League’s best. This team was compiled with the combination of fans and players votes, however, three of the A-Leagues biggest stars – Shinji Ono, Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey – have pulled out of the game. In contrast, United expect to bring a near full strength squad, with international superstars Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie expected to line up. With the recent retirement of manager and club legend Sir Alex Ferguson, Australian fans will be among the first in the world to see new boss David Moyes on the bench.

Just four days after this, Melbourne Victory play host to Liverpool at the MCG. A similar story lies with this game, as Victory heavyweights Archie Thompson and Mark Milligan unlikely to be involved due to international commitments in the East Asian Cup. Fans, however, will be looking forward to seeing the likes of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard come and play.

Whilst both the English sides are overwhelming favorites in both their clashes, the is a huge fan base for both the clubs in Australia, so the crowd won’t be disappointed with an home team defeat. With Manchester United being one of the biggest clubs in the world and ex-Liverpool star Harry Kewell being one of Australia’s greatest exports, there is a good chance you will see more red than anything else over the two games.

The Manchester United match was sold out within minutes, so you will be hard pressed to find a ticket. The Liverpool game, however, has a few remaining.

Manchester United vs A-League All-stars 7.30pm 20/07/13  , ANZ Stadium, Sydney.

Liverpool vs Melbourne Victory 8.00pm 24/07/13, MCG, Melbourne.