Tag Archives: Europe

Young Lions Impressing

(Pic – Evening Standard)

After a disappointing summer for the England Under 21 side, they have started qualification for the next European Championships in fine style. Expectations were high heading into this summer’s tournament however they failed to live up to the hype and crashed out at the group stage. Focus has now turned to the next tournament, regular forwards Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Dominic Solanke have been overlooked whilst Tammy Abraham and James Maddison have moved to the senior squad. Their replacements are impressing every bit as much with Eddie Nketiah scoring an impressive hat trick in the 5-1 win against Austria, who had won all of their previous qualifiers.

Who is ready for the senior squad?

Callum Hudson-Odoi – Impressed against Austria scoring two stunning goals, sweeping in a volley and curling home a fabulous second following a fine solo run. Callum is sure to be brought back into the senior squad once he has more games at Chelsea under his belt following his injury lay off.

Phil Foden – Has the undoubted talent to be a full England International, however at this point in his career getting game time is the most important thing. If he remains out of the picture at Manchester City then getting games at England Under 21 level is vital for his development. The question remains should he go on loan for game time or remain at City and learn from the many talented players and coaches there? That is open to debate.

As for anyone else that should make the step up, is there is anyone? Who isn’t a big advocate for giving players time to grow at this level and not rushing them into the senior squad? It is better if they gained experience this way than being brought into the senior squad and sat on the bench. There are a number of players; Tammy Abraham, James Maddison, etc, who are playing well enough for their clubs to earn full international recognition. However, it is still difficult for them to get game time for the senior side due to the form of that side.

The best thing for these players is to balance their time between both squads, pick games in which they will get minutes for the senior side, against lesser sides and give them time with the Under 21’s.

Advertisements

Premier League teams attempt to rise on Matchday 2 of Champions League

As the second matchday of the UEFA Champions League commences later today, Tottenham and Manchester City begin their quests of making it to knockout rounds after having successful tournament results last year. Reigning Champions League winners Liverpool and former winners Chelsea are set to play on Wednesday – aiming to get back in the standings after devastating losses to Napoli and Valencia respectively.

Tottenham, fresh off a Champions League campaign in which they finished as the runner-up, started this edition of the tournament with a 2-2 draw against Olympiacos. Scoring two early goals from Harry Kane’s penalty in the 26th minute, followed by a Lucas Moura goal in the 30th minute – goals from Daniel Podence in the 44th minute and Mathieu Valbuena in the 54th minute were enough to seal a draw at Karaiskakis Stadium. Tottenham will host German giants Bayern Munich at 8 p.m. GMT for its fifth-ever meeting against the club. Bayern are coming off a 3-0 victory over Crvena Zvezda after goals from Kingsley Coman, Robert Lewandowski, and Thomas Müller took all three points at The Allianz Arena.

Manchester City had a huge victory 3-0 over Shakhtar Donetsk at The Metalist, with Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gündogan, and Gabriel Jesus providing the necessary goals. They will face off against Dinamo Zagreb at Etihad Stadium at 8 p.m. GMT. The Croatian side defeated Atalanta 4-0 on Matchday 1 after Mislav Orsic’s hat trick at Stadion Maksimir. This will be the first-ever matchup between the two clubs – who do you think will end up in top spot?

Liverpool, fresh off of their recent Champions League winning campaign, started their campaign off with a dud as they lost 2-0 to Napoli. Late goals from Dries Mertens in the 82th minute and Fernando Llorente in injury time, helped the Italian team embarass the holders. Now, Liverpool will have to get back on track as they host Red Bull Salzburg at 8 p.m. GMT. The Austrian side had a 6-2 victory against Genk on the first matchday, led by a hat trick from Norwegian teen sensation Erling Braut Haaland at Red Bull Arena. The matchup between tonight’s game will be the first-ever matchup between the two clubs.

Chelsea, the champions of last year’s edition of the Europa League beating London compatriot Arsenal, did not get off to a great start in the Champions League as new coach/former club legend Frank Lampard and The Blues suffered a 1-0 loss at the feet of Rodrigo at Stamford Bridge. Considered the favorites of the group before the start of the tournament, Chelsea will have to get back in gear as they head to Stade Pierre Mauroy to battle Lille OSC at 8 p.m. GMT. Lille suffered a 3-0 defeat in their last game against Ajax due to goals from Quincy Promes, Edson Álvarez, and Nicolás Tagliafico at Johan Crujiff ArenA. The two clubs will face off against each other for the first time.

With the Champions League still in the beginning stages, time will tell if England will have back-to-back winners in the tournament for the first time since Liverpool and Aston Villa won the 1981 and 1982 editions.

REYES : FORMER ARSENAL PLAYER DIES IN CAR CRASH

Jose Antonio Reyes, Who was part of Arsenal’s historic ‘Invincibles’ in 2003-04, has died in a car accident aged just 35, Spanish club Sevilla have announced. Reyes who was with Spanish second division Extremadura for whom he played for just 2 weeks ago represented his boyhood club Sevilla 250 times scoring 40 Goals. He has also played for great names including Real and Atletico Madrid. A minute’s silence will be observed at Saturday’s Champions League final as a mark of respect to Reyes, who was the first Spaniard to win the Premier League.

Reyes signed for Arsenal during the January transfer window of the 2003–04 campaign for £10.5 million, he played 21 times and scored 5 goals in the remainder of that season including two in the penultimate two games of the season that helped keep as undefeated Arsenal won the title without losing. He played for the gunners for another 2 seasons winning the FA Cup: (2004–05) FA Community Shield (2004) and reaching the UEFA Champions League Final in 2005–06. In 2004–05 he managed to score in each of the first six games. He was named as the Premier League Player of the Month for August. Reyes featured heavily in the Gunners’ 2005–06 Champions League run, against, among others, Real Madrid, Juventus F.C. and Villarreal CF, coming on as a substitute in the final against FC Barcelona, which Arsenal lost 1–2. In total he played 110 times for the gunners scoring 23 Goals playing alongside greats including Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabreges who are among many people who paid tribute to Reyes.

Henry, called him a “wonderful player, superb team-mate and exceptional human being”. “I wish his family and friends continued strength and courage to get through this difficult time. #takenfartoosoon”, he added on Twitter

Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas called Reyes his “first great friend in the world of professional football”, and added “Our connection in the field was also special.”I always say that you have been one of the greatest talents in our football and I know that I am not wrong. “Two days ago I was talking about you in an interview, it might be a sign, who knows, to remember you, my great friend.

Current Arsenal manager Unai Emery, who Reyes played under at Sevilla, paid tribute by saying: “Deeply sad and speechless after knowing this tragic news. I’ll never forget your magic and your smile.

After leaving Arsenal Reyes joined Giants Real Madrid on loan where he scored 7 goals in 38 appearances wining the la liga title, he then joined Real’s neighbours Atletico where he spent the next 4 seasons winning 2 UEFA Europa Leagues (2009–10, 2011–12) UEFA Super Cup (2010) UEFA Intertoto Cup (2007) and was a Copa del Rey runner-up in 2009–10.

He had a loan spell with Benfica whilst at Atletico before returning home to Sevilla in 2012 where he was part of the side managed by Emery that won 3 back to back Ueafa Europa Leagues and in the 2013-14 campaign scored in the second leg of their last-16 win over city rivals Betis. , in the final of the following season’s tournament, reportedly his final game for the club, he captained and assisted Carlos Bacca’s first of two goals as the team came from behind to defeat FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3–2 in Warsaw. However, he remained, starting as skipper in the ensuing Super Cup against Barcelona in Tbilisi and scoring a goal as his side came from 1–4 down to take the game to extra time, but lose nonetheless.

Reyes won his first full cap for Spain on 6 September 2003, coming on as a half-time substitute during a 3–0 friendly win against Portugal in Guimarães.[64] On 11 October, again coming from the bench, this time for Vicente, he scored twice in the final three minutes of a 4–0 win in Armenia for the UEFA Euro 2004 qualifiers,[65] but was left out of Iñaki Sáez’s final squad.

Two years later, Reyes was picked for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but only appeared once in four matches – the 1–0 group stage win against Saudi Arabia, with Spain already qualified in first place.[66] He was again overlooked for the victorious Euro 2008 tournament, as manager Luis Aragonés preferred the likes of David Silva and Santi Cazorla on the wings.

UEFA Nations League – The Final Four

Following Europe’s success at last years FIFA World Cup, the continent has been captivated by the new UEFA Nations League. The new competition allows European teams to compete with one another in a league format; with teams of a similar ranking being matched in groups with each other, to level the playing field. 

As the inaugural competition draws to a close, we take a look at the semi-finalists and assess how they’ve managed to get this far in the ‘league’. The finals of this tournament are in Portugal, suiting the nation themselves, as they take on Switzerland in the first semi-final game on June 5th. Southgate’s England find themselves in yet another international semi-final, as they take on Holland on the following day. The winners of each game go head to head in the final on June 9th. 

Portugal

Portugal started in a group with Italy and Poland and finished the group stage in first place and undefeated; with a win and draw against each team. Fernando Santos’ team were relatively poor in last years FIFA World Cup, after finishing second in their group and being knocked by Uruguay in the Round of 16. However, two years prior to this they conquered Europe, winning their first international trophy at Euro 2016. They clearly have European dominance, and with players like Ronaldo, Quaresma and Bernado Silva, you’d expect them to overcome Switzerland on Wednesday.

Switzerland

It goes without saying that Switzerland are a surprise entry in the Semi’s, especially that their group consisted of The Belgian Red Devils, and Euro 2016 wonder-team Iceland. Only making the Round of 16 in the 2018 and 2014 FIFA World Cup, their international achievements have been limited. They do however have a good set of players, with recent UCL winning Xherdan Shaqiri, and Arsenal duo Granit Xhaka, and Stephan Lichsteiner. They will need to be on top form if they are to overcome Portugal in front of their fans, but a win would be a massive achievement for the nation. In the group stage, they spectacularly came back from 2-0 down, to win 5-2 against Belgium. Will they be able to bring the same fireworks to Porto?

Holland

Somewhat surprisingly after not making the qualification for the previous World Cup, The Netherlands found themselves in group A1, the toughest group in the new competition. Consisting of both of the previous World Cup winners France and Germany, it would be a tough challenge to make the semi-finals. After losing their first game to France, they bounced back to triumph over Germany and win the game 3-0. Koeman’s side went on to defeat the world champions the second time of asking, and a high scoring draw against Germany sent The Dutch through on goal difference. Holland have a strong, well-drilled side, with Premier League player of the year Virgil Van Dijk, and Ajax’s star midfielder Frenkiede Jong. Known for their possession based, tactical gameplay; will The Flying Dutchmen spoil Southgate’s party?

England

The speculation as to whether The Three Lions could replicate their 2018 World Cup success looked to be subdued, following the loss to Spain in the first game of the Nations League. With the following game against none other than Croatia (we all know what happened the last time), would Southgate be able to turn the tables, and avenge last summers eventual disappointment? The game finished as a disappointing 0-0 draw, and England’s Nations League campaign would be over unless they took all 6 points from their remaining two fixtures.  Two outstanding performances followed, with a 3-2 victory against The Spaniards, and a 2-1 triumph against new rivals Croatia; England had made another International Semi-Final. The other semi-finalists will struggle to match England’s squad depth; with Maguire, Alexander-Arnold and Stones in defence, Lingard, Henderson and young prodigy Jadon Sancho in midfield, and an attacking force of Sterling, Rashford and Golden Boot winner Harry Kane. With such talent from both of the teams, it should be a cracking game.

Five young Championship players who could step up to the Premier League this summer

The quality of the Championship has undoubtedly soared over recent years and as a result their are many young players making a name for themselves in English footballs second tier. With players such as Dele Alli and Harry Maguire beginning their careers outside the top flight and now starring in the Premier League with full international honours, it is clear that there is real talent out there. But which young Championship stars are ready to make the step up now?

Mason Mount, Derby (Loan)- The young loanee from Chelsea has really made an impact at Derby this season and has led them all the way to the play off final. With 11 goals and 6 assists the 20 year old has been in fine form despite a few injury troubles, and with Chelsea’s current transfer embargo Mount could become a key player for Sarri’s side next term. If not he will almost definitely be on loan at another Premier League club after proving he is a cut above Championship level. He has all the key skills a good attacking midfielder needs but is also not afraid to do the dirty work, tracking back and putting challenges in, expect big things from Mount over the coming years.

Daniel James, Swansea- Heavily linked with a big money move to Manchester United, Swansea winger Daniel James has turned heads with his incredible pace, dribbling skills and end product. The 21 year old was close to joining Leeds in January but the deal fell through at the last minute, contrary to many other players who’s form nosedives after a failed transfer, James continued his stellar form and recorded three goals and five assists after Christmas to take his overall tally to 5 goals and 10 assists in 38 games. The Welsh international went viral earlier this season after a goal he scored against Brentford highlighted his immense pace as he sped through the whole defence from just inside his own box and finished well.

Marcus Tavernier, Middlesbrough- Brother of Rangers captain James Tavernier, Marcus has made a name for himself on his own right after a string of promising performances for Tony Pulis Middlesbrough during 18/19. The left winger has broke through this season making 27 appearances and recording four goals and three assists with many feeling he would be the perfect replacement for Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth. Eddie Howe has a reputation for giving football league prospects a chance such as Callum Wilson and David Brooks and a move to the South Coast could be the perfect place for the 20 year old to develop.

Che Adams, Birmingham- The 22 year old striker has just enjoyed the best season of his career with Birmingham and has bagged 22 goals in 48 games, not missing a single League game and finally turning that potential into consistent performances. His finishing has dramatically improved and he is now much stronger, allowing him to hold the ball up much better and bring teammates into play. Premier League clubs such as Burnley, Crystal Palace and Southampton are interested in Adams and it seems inevitable the Leicester born goal scorer will be playing Premier League football next season, the only question is where?

Jarrod Bowen, Hull- Winger Jarrod Bowen has built on a very good 17/18 and upped the ante this term grabbing more goals, assists and playing more games. Playing predominantly off the right hand side cutting inside onto his left foot, Bowen has bewildered many fullbacks this season and almost managed the impossible of carrying a very average Hull side to the play offs. Unsurprisingly he picked up the player of the year, the fans player of the year and the players player of the year at the end of season awards and rumour has it Champions League finalists Tottenham are sniffing around the 22 year old.

Who do you think would have the biggest impact on the Premier League?