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Posts Tagged ‘ Steven Gerrard ’

Long Awaited World Cup Set For Big Kick Off

worldcup (easports)

The first kick-off of the 2014 World Cup will take place later this evening. If your reaction to that is a sigh of relief, then you are likely not the only one. There has been an awful lot of build-up to these finals, with the analysis and predictions and hopes and fears gradually growing louder and louder. With no major European club football to speak of for nearly a month, the only thing to do was to look forward to the major tournament ahead. Surely it is a glorious summer when possible transfer deals are not the big talking point for football heads. But the time for action has come, finally.

It is no surprise that people are excited, of course. There is no World Cup that would not be celebrated, or treated as anything but the ultimate competition the game has to offer. But this time around, it is even more special. This is a World Cup in Brazil, the home of beautiful football. It is a rare treat for the players involved, knowing that they some of them will get to claim the game’s grandest accolade in the country which has always always managed to breath creativity and flair into the game at the highest level. To win a World Cup in Brazil is about as big as it gets. Continue reading

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World Cup 2014: Predictions For Every Team

brazil

With the kick-off of World Cup 2014 now less than a week away, the excitement is starting to build. Coverage of the event is starting to really pick up, as the footballing world gets ready for the beginning of it’s biggest event of any calendar year. With that in mind, I would like to put forward my predictions for every team and how they will fare, including all the teams who will fall at the group stage hurdle, all the way on to who I predict will be the eventual winners.

Group stage eliminations

Cameroon

The most likely victim of what is a very tough draw, Cameroon seem like long shots to emerge from Group A. Hosts Brazil, potential dark horses Croatia and Mexico make up the rest of the group, and it may well prove too much for Cameroon to claim enough points to sneak in to the knockout stages. An experienced squad led by captain Samuel Eto’o as well as veterans Alex Song and Jean Makoun, Cameroon also boast young defensive talent in Nicolas N’Koulou and Joel Matip. Unfortunately for them, it seems unlikely that they will prove good enough to edge out two of the other teams, and so it looks like three games and out for Cameroon.

Mexico

It looks quite likely that Brazil and Croatia will emerge from this group, especially if the Croatians can get a point in the tournament’s inaugural match. Mexico had a very ugly qualifying campaign to even reach Brazil, finishing fourth in their group, behind the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras. They eventually beat New Zealand comfortably in a play-off, but it does not augur well for them in such a tough group. Still, Mexico boast a very experienced squad, with the likes of Rafael Marquez still around to organise them. If the likes of Javier Hernandez (who has a scoring rate of better than one every two games for his country) catches fire, then maybe they have a shot. But all signs point to an early exit for Mexico.

Continue reading

Top 5 Most Under Rated Footballers In The Premier League

World football is full of many talents but some never reach their through potential while others merely live in the shadow of four time world player of the year Lionel Messi and his arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

mcThe Premier League has long been regarded as one of the best if not the best league in the world, although recent events such as the world team of the year possessing eleven Spanish based players would tell you La Liga has a huge stake to that claim.

Nontheless despite the snub the Premier League is brimming with talent and here we chart the progress of the top five most underrated players currently plying their trade on English soil.

1) Michael Carrick

Six years ago the vast sum of £18 million brought Michael Carrick from Spurs to Manchester United, a team that were seen to be in a period of great decline. Carrick was handed the number 16 shirt and immediately tasked with replacing former United captain Roy Keane.

His early days weren’t as prosperous as he would have liked but nonetheless his talent was there for all to see as United went on to beat Chelsea to the Champions League title on that faithful night in Moscow.

There have however been incidents where the former West Ham ace was hounded as a scapegoat for United’s defects, none more so than the forgettable 2009 Champions League Final when Barcelona ran out 2-0 winners.

He has however moved on from then and Carrick is now having his finest season to date and is United’s second most influential player behind the potent goal threat that is Robin Van Persie.

The Newcastle born star is not known for his goalscoring ability but his ability to control a game and his precision passing have been at times comparable to the great Andrea Pirlo.

The Englishman, now 31, is the genuine complete article. A model midfielder. His influence on United’s game is more pronounced than ever before. He pulls the strings in attack – dictates the tempo, rhythm and style of their play. His short passing is equally as good as his long. His strength in defence has even resulted in featuring as a make-shift centre back when injuries and suspensions depleted United’s ranks.

It’s a damning indictment of English football that a player Sir Alex Ferguson proclaims is as good as Yaya Toure, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard has started only 16 England games in 12 years.

Is Carrick the most underrated player in world football? Arguably so.

2) Steven Pienaar

Everton have a world class left side, with Steven Pienaar combining brilliantly with Leighton Baines this season. The Toffees have been buoyed by the South Africans return from a spell at Spurs and he’s hitting form at the right time.

Pienaar has always flourished under the radar and while not been held in the same regard as other world class wingers his ability is second to none on his day. Passing, crossing and an eye for goal are all key components of his play and he has prospered since returning home to Goodison Park last summer.

3) Mohammed Diame

Diame joined West Ham last summer, opting to move to Upton Park despite many big name suitors including Liverpool. The former Wigan Athletic star is one of the brightest prospects in the Premier League and it’s no wonder that there is increased speculation about another move been on the agenda in this transfer window.

The combative midfielder covers more ground than most players and his tackling and drive have been key components in helping to re-establish Sam Allardyce’s side in the top flight. Indeed his tackling and dribbling abilities far outweigh those of Man City star Yaya Toure and the Hammers will be hoping to keep hold of their prized asset.

4) Leon Britton

30 year old Britton is the only British player whose passing and ball control abilities can ever be comparable to Barcelona magician Xavi. Last January it was revealed that Britton had the highest pass completion rate of any footballer in the world at that point of the 2011/12 season with a 93.3% rate, 0.3% better than his illustrious opponent.

His control, vision and knack for picking out the inch perfect pass make watching Swansea City a treat for any pure football fan. Although this is not to say that the Swans are by any means a one man team.

swans

5) Ryan Shawcross

Fresh from signing the longest contract in the history of Stoke City, Shawcross is playing the best football of his life, throwing his body on line to block shots. He leads a very stubborn back four with his brute force and physical presence.

His command and reading of the game make him a big asset to any team and Tony Pulis has done well to secure the services of Shawcross, who had been catching the eye of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

At 25 he represents the future of the English national team and 2013 will be a big year for the Stoke skipper to cement his place in Roy Hodgson’s plans.

 

Premier League Preview

This weekend`s fixture list throws up some exciting derby matches as the Premier League resumes following last week“s FA Cup third round matches.   

 

West Ham V Arsenal

 

With the backing of their tremendous fans, the Hammers may well pull off a result in what would appear to be Avram Grant`s last match in charge. However, Arsenal will be eager to avenge their recent results, with a 1-1 FA Cup Draw with Leeds and a 1-0 defeat to Ipswich in the League Cup semi final leaving Gunners fans aggrieved.

 

Verdict: Draw

 

Liverpool V Everton

 

This Merseyside derby always serves us a tense battle and Kenny Dalglish will be eager to get his first win as Liverpool manager over their arch enemies. He will have to do so without the services of the influential Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. Dalglish will be hoping his side can improve on their disastrous midweek performance, where Blackpool came from a goal behind to beat the Anfield side for the second time this season.

Everton manager David Moyes will be hoping like Blackpool, that his side can do the double over Liverpool this season. However Everton may well struggle for goals as top scorer Tim Cahill is away on international duty with Australia. Expect the home side to edge this one with Fernando Torres putting his critics to shame.  

 

Verdict: Liverpool

 

Spurs V Man Utd

 

Man United travel to Spurs on Sunday for what should be an intriguing tie. United will find it tough against Harry Redknapp`s men and their unbeaten record in the Premier League this season faces a real threat.

 

Spurs will definitely frustrate the Red Devils, with a draw the most likely outcome.

 

Verdict: Draw

 

Chelsea V Blackburn

 

Chelsea host Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge as they aim to put together a steady run of results following their desire form as of late. Roque Santa Cruz`s return to Lancashire will boost Steve Kean`s men and they will certainly be up for this match. However with their inconsistent form this season Rovers may just fall short.

 

Verdict: Chelsea   

 

Man City V Wolves

 

Roberto Mancini`s men will be aiming to crank up the pressure on Manchester United at the top of the table this weekend but they must not underestimate a Wolves side, who have beaten both Liverpool and Chelsea in recent weeks.

Mick McCarthy`s men will travel to Eastlands in a confident mood but the relegation candidates may well fall fowl to Edin Dzeko, with City`s new 27 million striker the catalyst for a title tilt.

 

Verdict: Man City   

 

Stoke V Bolton

 

Bolton travel to the Britannia Stadium this weekend hoping to maintain their push for  Europe. While the Trotters have produced some outstanding displays this term they may well come unstuck against Tony Pulis` men. A draw is the most likely result.

 

Verdict:Draw  

 

West Brom V Blackpool

 

Ian Holloway`s side will roll into the Midlands this weekend in confident mood after putting Liverpool to the sword in midweek. Blackpool have every reason to be confident ahead of this match as West Brom are on an alarming slide down the table after their early season exploits.

 

Verdict: Blackpool

 

Wigan V Fulham

 

Wigan will be eager to start putting more points on the board as they currently sit second bottom. A win over Mark Hughes` men may well move them out of the relegation zone but they must rely on results elsewhere. Fulham will provide stiff competition for the Latics as they are in a similar position. Should Roberto Martinez`s side win they will jump above the Cottagers but this match has draw written all over it.

 

Verdict:Draw

 

Sunderland V Newcastle United

 

Sunderland host their fierce rivals in the second Tyne Wear derby of the season, with manager Steve Bruce still smarting after the Geordies thrashed the Wearsiders earlier this season.

 

Sunderland may well fall short again with key players missing through injury and suspension. Newcastle are no different with Andy Carroll set to miss out yet they still possess the quality to to the double over their neighbours.

 

Verdict: Newcastle  

 

Birmingham City V Aston Villa

 

These two sides meet at St Andrews with only a point separating them. This season has proved to be a frustrating one for both sides as they languish in the bottom half of the table. For Birmingham, its been a case of lacking goals while for Villa it has just been one long slide under Gerard Houllier. Birmingham look set to appease their goal drought with the signing of Spurs striker Robbie Keane while Villa are in the market for some new players, with Jean Makoun of Lyon undergoing a medical at Villa Park.

The incentive is their for both sides but Alex McLeish`s men may prove too strong for Villa.

 

Verdict: Birmingham City

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