Tag Archives: Europe

Zlatan Ibrahimović set to return to A.C. Milan

After starring for the MLS’ LA Galaxy for the past two seasons, Zlatan Ibrahimović has reportedly agreed to a principle deal, returning to A.C. Milan for at least until the end of this season.

Ibrahimović, who scored 42 goals in 61 appearances for the Serie A side from 2010 to 2012, will be brought in for some much-needed assistance as Stefano Pioli’s Milan are currently in 11th place in the league with a record of 5-2-7. The Lion has several years of Serie A experience under his belt, playing for the likes of Juventus (2004 to 2006), Inter Milan (2006 to 2009), as well as Milan. 

However, critics wonder if Ibrahimović, 38, will be able to play at a high level in one of the top leagues in the world. Even though the Swedish international played a pivotal role for the Galaxy as he accumulated 52 goals in 56 appearances for the club, the North American league is considered a place where Europe’s biggest stars come to retire. 

This move back to the San Siro will be a huge step in Ibrahimović’s career to see if he still has the ability to play a top-level league. Do you think he will shine again in Italy?

Chelsea Women’s land international superstar Sam Kerr

Manager Emma Hayes and the Chelsea Women’s side, who are currently the leaders of the WSL at 4-1-0, improved their squad drastically by signing Australian sensation Sam Kerr on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

The Blues competed against several of European’s top clubs, including FC Barcelona, PSG, and Champions League winners Lyon, but were able to sway the prolific scorer into playing in England. She will officially join the squad in January 2020.

Kerr, 26, was rotating her playing time between the Perth Glory of Australia’s W-League (whose season runs from October to April) and the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL (whose season ran from April to October), which was taking a toll on the striker. 

The Australian international had a strong campaign in her home country’s league last season as she won the Golden Boot Award for the second consecutive year in the league with 13 goals. Kerr also had an MVP season in the U.S. as she accumulated a league-record 18 goals along with five assists – leading the Red Stars to the championship game before ultimately losing to the North Carolina Courage. She is currently the all-time leading scorer in both leagues (64 in W-League, 65 in NWSL).

However, Kerr is most known for being the face of soccer Down Under, where she has been striving for the Matildas since her international debut at a mere 15 years of age. The captain of the squad has scored 38 goals in 83 appearances, leading Australia to the Round of 16 in the most recent edition of FIFA’s Women’s World Cup before falling to Norway in penalties.

 This signing for Chelsea was a huge step towards league and European dominance as they look to compete with these powerhouses by signing one of the best goal scorers in women’s soccer history.

Friendly International: England vs Germany

Match Preview – Kick-Off 5:30pm Wembley

England’s women are aiming to put their recent poor form behind them by securing a first win on home soil against the two-time World Champions, Germany.

Saturday’s friendly at Wembley Stadium could see a record attendance for a women’s match in the UK with the 90,000 stadium expecting to be a sell out.

The FA will also use this fixture as an opportunity to honour former England women footballers at England’s home of football, where they never got a chance to play on. These players are expected to include former England Captain and current Manchester United Manager, Casey Stoney.

Previous Meetings

The Germans have largely dominated the rivalry between these two sides.  There have been 25 meetings in total and the Lionesses have lost 20 of them.

In the past four years however there has certainly been cause for optimism as England defeated Germany for the first time in a World Cup Third place playoff match 1-0 in Canada.

Phil Neville’s team have also achieved two draws in the past four years against Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side including a 2-2 draw in the SheBelieves Cup back in March 2018.

Form of both teams

Post the World Cup England’s form has dipped.  Since their Third-place playoff defeat to Sweden Phil Neville’s side drew with Belgium 3-3, having at one point been 2-0 ahead mid way through the first half.  England subsequently lost back-to-back matches 2-1 to both Norway and Brazil.    They did however return to winning ways against Portugal last time out, on October 8th, thanks to a goal from Arsenal’s Beth Mead.

The German’s form by contrast has been formidable, since their World Cup Quarter-final loss to Sweden.   They have scored 31 goals already in their four European Qualifying games including a 10-0 win against Montenegro at the end of August.

Team News and Players to watch

England welcome back star forward Ellen White – who shared the golden boot with Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, scoring six goals.  They will however be without Chelsea’s playmaker Fran Kirby and centre back Millie Bright through injury.  Other key players such as Jill Scott, Toni Duggan and Georgia Stanway will also be unavailable due to various injury problems.

The Lionesses will have to keep an eye on Freiburg’s Klara Buhl. The young forward has scored 6 goals in four matches in Germany’s Euro campaign, including a hat trick against Ukraine back in October.

Lyon’s Dzsenifer Marozsan is also regarded as an important player for this German side.  Marozsan has scored 32 goals in 96 appearances for the national team and has consistently proved to be one of the best playmakers in the women’s game over the past few years.

Key Stats

  • The first match between the two sides was played in 1984
  • England achieved their first draw with Germany in January 2007 – a goalless draw played in China.
  • Germany won the last match at Wembley 3-0 against England back in November 2014 in front of a then record crowd of 45,619.
  • Germany has won eight European Championships – six of those titles were achieved between 1995-2013 before World Cup runners-up, The Netherlands broke that dominance by winning the title in 2017.

Prediction

England 1-3 Germany

Can see a similar result to that of 2014 – the Lionesses still have a few important players missing and Germany’s form particularly in the past few months has been exceptional.

 

 

Captain America arrives in England: The impact of Pulisic’s big day at Burnley

It was the 60th-minute in a CONCACAF Nations League match between host Canada and the U.S. at BMO Field in Toronto on October 15. U.S. National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter was substituting D.C. United’s Paul Arriola into a tied game at zero, but it was for the “wonder boy” – Christian Pulisic. As Pulisic headed toward the bench, the TV cameras caught his frustrations and how emotional he was to be taken off in a game in which the U.S. would end up losing 2-0, the first time the national team had lost to Canada since 1985. But, was the disappointment Pulisic faced ended up igniting a fire in him?

Since returning back to England after the U.S. were upset, Pulisic has been on a tear for Chelsea. In Pulisic’s first game since the international break, he provided the game-winning assist to Marcos Alonso in the 73rd-minute after coming on to the pitch nine minutes before in a 1-0 victory over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge. Later, in a mid-week Champions League matchup against Ajax at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, Pulisic provided an assist to fellow substitute and former Borussia Dortmund teammate Michy Batshuayi in the 86th-minute to help the team take a first-place spot in Group H. However, Pulisic’s biggest impact for the Blues was in his first Premier League Start since August 31.

Pulisic, who had been providing some help as a substitute in recent matches, was given the nod by coach Frank Lampard to start against Burnley, who were in 7th place in the league at the time the match was played. The young American made an immediate impact in his start as he opened up the scoring for Chelsea with a goal in the 21st-minute for his first Premier League goal. 

However, the most expensive American soccer player was not done as he would score another goal – with the help of a deflection from Ben Mee – to help the Blues have a two-goal lead heading into halftime.

The perfect hat trick – a goal with the left foot, right foot, and header – was sealed for Pulisic as he headed in a cross from Mason Mount in the 56th-minute to become the youngest in Premier League history with a hat trick (21 years, 38 days) to help Chelsea to a 4-2 victory at Turf Moor.

            This game for Pulisic also made him just the second U.S. player to score a hat trick in the Premier League since Clint Dempsey was able to accomplish that feat on January 21, 2012 as Fulham defeated Newcastle 5-2.  Pulisic was also the first Chelsea player to have a perfect hat trick since club legend Didier Drogba’s big game against Wigan on May 9, 2010 in an 8-0 victory to help the Blues clinch their third Premier League title. 

With pressure coming from every direction, from U.S. soccer fans to different media outlets, it looked as if it was taking a toll on the $73 million American sensation out of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Some were already labeling this move bust and wondered if Pulisic would ever break through with the squad after a tough start to the Premier League season, ignoring the fact that he is a mere 21 years of age. However, Pulisic ignored the banter and did not try to emulate the guy he supposedly was brought in to replace – Eden Hazard- but focused on being the best player he could be. With this game against Burnley, the future is bright for Captain America as he attempts to take the league by storm.

Photo – Metro, CBS, Sky.

Club World Cup, whats new?

The club world cup is undergoing a shake up currently that will see the competition go from seven teams to twenty four starting from 2021. The competition will run every four years and include eight teams from Europe, six from South America, three each from Africa, Asia and North America and one from Oceania, however Many European heavyweights have threatened to boycott.

Being held in the summer months this would significantly impact the European calendar as it would mean players would have to finish a long gruelling season only to have to play more games in the time they should be resting and recuperating.

The European Club Association (ECA) have written a letter to Uefa saying they are firmly against the idea and confirmed that no ECA clubs would be involved. With the potential lack of European clubs this instantly devalues the competition, as how can you have a Club World Cup without arguably the strongest sides in the world?

To further increase the backlash the first edition will be held in China, a place that has seen a multitude of protests and other issues over the past 12 months and right now is in no position to be hosting a global sporting event.

With all its issues and problems, the basic idea of having an expanded Club World Cup featuring all the best teams across the globe to determine who is the best team on the planet sounds good on paper. But logistically the tournament is always going to struggle as long as the different continents have their own football calendars.

The current tournament is well respected outside of Europe and is seen as a very big deal, it has just simply never interested European fans and has often been seen as a distraction to the domestic and Continental campaigns.

After an already shaky beginning can the expanded Club World Cup survive? and possibly outgrow its previous forms?