Posts Tagged ‘ Lazio ’

Former Premier League Star Reveals He Is Gay

hitzlsperger

Former Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has announced in a newspaper interview that he is gay.

“I’m making my homosexuality public because I would like to advance the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes,” he told Die Zeit in an interview to be published on Thursday.

The 31-year-old is the first high-profile German player to publicly reveal that he is homosexual. Continue reading

Sunderland Sack Paulo Di Canio

DICANIO

Sunderland have sacked manager Paolo Di Canio after the controversial manager was involved in a spat with his players following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of West Brom.

The Wearsiders sit bottom of the Barclay’s Premier League and clearly felt a change was needed. Paolo, himself, was in charge for all of seven months. Sunderland released a statement to the press notifying them of Di Canio’s sacking on Sunday evening. In the statement came also the news that Kevin Ball will take charge of the first team affairs until a new manager comes in. Continue reading

Perspective-Superior Germans Have Problems Ireland Won’t Exploit

Will Jogi Be Jumping For Joy In Dublin?

Germany visit the Aviva Stadium to play against the Republic of Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers tomorrow. Given the 100% record in the EURO 2012 qualifiers plus reaching the semi finals, the Germans enter the match as clear favourites. The vast majority of the Germany squad play either for the strongest Bundesliga teams like Borussia Dortmund or Bayern München, or have established themselves in some of the biggest teams in Europe, like Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira at Real Madrid, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker at Arsenal or Miroslav Klose at Lazio.

The team continues to be one of youngest and most talented ones in the history of German football, but despite (or because of) that, things are not as rosy as they seem.

There are a couple of things that are certain with a team from Germany. Number one: We could supply several other national teams throughout Europe with goalkeepers. Manuel Neuer, Ron-Robert Zieler and Marc-André ter Stegen are the three selected, but there is another handful of keepers in the Bundesliga other countries would be proud of having on their bench, or even between the posts. René Adler, Roman Weidenfeller, Bernd Leno, Fabian Giefer,….

Number two: There will always be enough attacking midfielders around. Okay, this is a more recent development, but the point stands. Germany have the choice of fielding 3 of the following behind lone striker Miroslav Klose: Müller, Özil, Podolski, Reus, Schürrle or Götze. It is suspected that Müller, Özil and Reus will get to start, but every combination is a threat for the opponent.

But this uber-offer of creative, pacy wingers hints at one of the major problems Germany face now and even more in the future. With Gomez injured, there is only Klose up front. And not many strikers are really showing themselves in the league. As coach Löw hinted before the Euros, it is suspected that a 4-6-0 formation like Spain played last summer with Marco Reus in the “false nine” role might be the solution. However, this formation has never really been tested in a competitive match.

Speaking of problems, there is another one that exists for years and doesn’t look either like being solved in the future; the defence. Mats Hummels misses the qualifiers with a foot injury, Philipp Lahm pulled out of the games as well. This makes a centre back partnership of Per Mertesacker and Holger Badstuber quite likely. Mertesacker was benched recently while Badstuber played left-back for Bayern in their last matches. The two are not used to playing alongside each other, that might leave gaps.

Things on the fullback positions are problematic too. It says a lot about a country as big as Germany, that all hopes relied on Lahm to perform on either side. There simply isn’t a second good to great left- or right-back in Germany, let alone a replacement. Joachim Löw heavily criticized Dortmund left-back Marcel Schmelzer before the upcoming qualifiers because of his recent performances and was complaining he didn’t have many alternatives to choose from. It’s true that Schmelzer had a bad match against Austria last month and he has been occasionally found out against tougher opposition, but there are indeed not many replacements around, sadly. Boateng on the other flank, as Lahm’s backup, is expected to do a solid job, although nothing spectacular.

Okay okay, this is whining on a very high level, compared to Ireland’s problems. But these problems are enough to make people question Löw’s work as coach. However it is not expected to see him leave any time before the World Cup. Qualifying for a major competition is a box ticked by the German public and media, even before it starts. Therefore winning the group is a must for Löw and the team. And despite the Euro 2012 hangover the squad has, a few individual moments can make a difference against a spirited team performance. The game in Vienna last month is the best example, where two good moments in the match guaranteed two goals and the team was just about able to hang on to the three points, they didn’t deserve.

Key Man: Dortmund’s Marco Reus

All in all, these players now have found their form in the Bundesliga or the respective leagues and should be motivated enough to beat Ireland and then Sweden on Tuesday, at home in the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

Germany will line out like this: Neuer – Boateng, Mertesacker, Badstuber, Schmelzer – Khedira, Schweinsteiger – Müller, Özil, Reus – Klose.

Against a restructuring home team, those eleven (plus subs) should be well able to comfortably beat the Republic of Ireland. However, the last Germany win on Irish soil was in 1979 (3-1). Alright, only two games were played in Ireland afterwards, both ending in a draw. The most recent was a 0-0 in the Euro 2008 qualifiers; only Mertesacker, Schweinsteiger and Podolski are players who featured in that match and are back five years on.

I’ll say Germany has enough quality to beat Ireland comfortably, despite all the defensive problems I predict a 3-0 win for Germany to keep the 100% record in the qualifying group.

By Ansgar Löcke (@ansgarius_90)

Spotlight On Italy

Ireland’s third game is against our old friends Italy and takes place on the 18th June in Poznan. Italy have only won this tournament once which is a surprise seeing as they have won the World Cup four times, their most recent victory coming in 2006.  The critics have said that Italy will finish in close second to Spain in this group but as we know from past meetings, the Italians are beatable and with our secret weapon, Mr.Trapattoni, an upset could be on the cards. 

Italy came through qualifying unscathed, remaining unbeaten and only conceding two goals in ten games. The Italian squad, as always, contains some very talented players but their defence could be key to them going far in this tournament. Spain knocked Italy out in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 and they failed to make it out of a group they would have expected to win at the 2010 World Cup so they will be out to prove that they can still compete at the major tournaments. 

Before the World Cup in 2006, Italy was rocked by a match fixing scandal and it seems to have reared its ugly head again after police turned up at the Italian’s Euro 2012 training camp recently to inform left back Domenico Criscito that he was under investigation for match fixing. Criscito has since been dropped from the Italian squad, and is being investigated about betting on games along with nineteen other people including Lazio captain Stefano Mauri and Juventus’ title winning manager Antonio Conte. 

Many people will say the Italians went on to win the World Cup in 2006 despite the match fixing scandal but they had a much stronger squad six years ago. Italian manager Cesare Prandelli will hope that Antonio Cassano is fully recovered from a recent heart scare and can spearhead his attack alongside Manchester City bad-boy Mario Balotelli. Prandelli will hope Balotelli can hit the headlines for his footballing ability and not for his off the field antics. Prandelli has the hard task of succeeding World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi and with his young side, he hopes to outwit fellow Italian, Trappatoni. 

Previous Meetings: The two sides most recent meeting was last summer in a friendly that Ireland won two nil in Belgium. During qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, the two teams drew twice, the second of those draws meaning the Italians qualified despite Ireland leading in the late stages of the game. In twelve games against the Italians, Ireland have only won twice but one of those victories was one of Irelands greatest ever victories. At Giants Stadium in New York at the 1994 World Cup, a Ray Houghton goal was enough to see off an Italian side that went onto lose the final to Brazil. Ireland will be hoping to cause another upset against the Italians in Poznan. 

Strengths: The Italians have a history of solid defences and that trend continues with the side only conceding two goals in ten qualifying games. Despite their usual solid defence, they are no longer a negative counter attacking side and look to play an attractive style of football. 

Weaknesses: Giovanni Trapattoni & Marco Tardelli. The Ireland manager who coached the Italians at World Cup 2002 and Tardelli who won the World Cup with Italy will be out to beat their homeland and will have sussed out the Italian tactics. Mario Balotelli can be a liability and if he is not on his best behaviour, he could cause trouble in the camp. The camp has already been rocked by a match fixing scandal and will have that hanging over them during the tournament. A young & relatively inexperienced team may fail to flatter like they did in Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010.

 Key Player : Antonio Cassano  

Some people may argue that veteran midfielder Andrea Pirlo is still the main man controlling the game but Cassano has flourished under Prandelli scoring six goals in qualifying. Cassano suffered what could be described as a mini stroke in October and after good recovery he will hope to continue his form at his third European championship. He has improved his game quite a lot at AC Milan providing many assists and will be a serious threat in Poland.

 

By Andrew Harte