Archives for category: Football Features

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Tottenham’s start to the season is rather hard to gauge. Spurs currently sit in fourth, tied second, five points behind the league leaders Arsenal. All this having scored only nine goals in 10 games.

A stoic defence, which has kept a dazzling seven clean sheets in 10, has kept Andre Villas-Boas’ men in contention for the Champions League places. However, with Liverpool having joined the fight this season, and both Manchester City and Manchester United sure to regain their usual form under their new managers, the lilywhites cannot get ahead of themselves.

The lack of goals and goal scoring opportunities remains a concern, and the painful three-nil loss at White Hart Lane to London rivals West Ham remains in the Spurs conscience. The Hammers displayed the perfect game plan to thwart AVB’s men, keeping players behind the ball and looking to exploit counter attacks and set pieces. Spurs needed a dodgy penalty to overcome Hull a fortnight ago, while a first half of domination at Goodison Park on Sunday drew yet another blank.

Here we examine five changes the Portuguese manager might want to consider to truly make Spurs title contenders.

The post Spurs: 5 Changes That Would Make Tottenham Title Contenders appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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The Premier League era – until the last eight years – has been something of a golden age for Arsenal. Under Arsene Wenger the Gunners have won three Premier League titles, won four FA Cup, reached the UEFA Cup and Champions League finals all while consistently finishing in the top four.

Everyone remembers the great names of this time. Images of Bergkamp, Henry, Wright, Vieira, Seaman and Adams are all conjured to the forefront of your mind. These great players all made an impact on Arsenal over many years and are members of its 100 club.

Basking in their reflective glory, however, are other footballers that did not stay at Highbury or the Emirates Stadium for quite so long.

We celebrate ten players that influenced the Gunners in less than 100 matches:

10. Davor Suker

Top scorer at the 1998 World Cup, Croatia striker Suker joined Arsenal in the summer of 1999 at the age of 31, staying for just one season before joining West Ham. He bagged a brace on his full debut against Aston Villa and netted 11 in 39 games in all competitions.

Prior to joining the Gunners, Suker had also enjoyed success at club level with Real Madrid. He played a part in the Spanish giants’ La Liga triumph in 1996-97 and helped them win the Champions League on the eve of the World Cup.

Suker served as experienced backup to first choice strike pairing Bergkamp and Henry. He came on in extra time of the 2000 UEFA Cup final and infamously missed with his penalty in the shootout loss to Galatasaray.

The post Arsenal: 10 Best Premier League Era Players (Who Appeared Less Than 100 Times) appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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If Crystal Palace are two remain in the Premier League, it will be critical for the Eagles to start picking up wins soon otherwise they will find themselves falling too far behind the rest of the pack.

After what was a battling performance against Arsenal, albeit to a 2-0 loss, stand-in manager Keith Millen will be disappointed his team did not build on that performance and get a result against West Brom, again losing 2-0 on this occasion.

This leaves the South London outfit rock bottom of the table, losing 10 out of 11 games in all competitions – including an embarrassing 2-1 lose to League 1 side Bristol Rovers and their only victory a 3-1 triumph over fellow strugglers Sunderland – where both of those teams proving that revolution to a squad can be quite destructive.

And the loss of Algerian Adl ne Guedioura will not do anything to boost morale at Selhurst Park and with the crowd becoming frustrated at a lack of results – Palace will have to deliver soon.

As for Everton it is important to negotiate a potential trip-hazard it their race to achieve a place in Europe – in which looks to be a highly contested battle so far.

Last week’s 0-0 draw with Spurs will be a satisfactory result for Roberto Mart nez as his team continue to consistently pick up points at a steady rate – a 3-1 loss at the Eithad the only blotch on Everton’s record this season.

A lot of credit has to go to Mart nez who has recognised Everton’s weakness up front – bringing in Romelu Lukaku to lead the line for the season which has been widely accepted as one of the best pieces of transfer business in the summer, and also bringing in Gareth Barry and James McCarthy who’s partnership has already faded memories of Marouane Fellaini.

You would expect Everton to take all 3 points back to Goodison Park Saturday, although if Palace manage to repeat the heart of their performance versus Arsenal an impressive point a least could be their reward.

The post Crystal Palace vs Everton – 5 Key Battles appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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David Moyes has endured a difficult start to his reign as manager of Manchester United. With his side struggling for form in the Premier League, the Champions League has become a welcome distraction for the new boss. The latest betting tips from Coral News see the Reds as favourites at 4/7 to take the 3 points, whilst their opponents stand at 11/2 to cause an upset.

United have started Europe’s premier club competition well, defeating Bayer Leverkusen at home and picking up a valuable draw away to Shakhtar Donestk.

The visit of Real Sociedad to Old Trafford this evening should provide Moyes with his second win of the group stage. The Spanish side have struggled to rekindle their form of last season, which saw them finishing fourth in La Liga.

However, United must be wary of complacency as Sociedad have the ability to topple the English giants.

In this post, WhatCulture looks at three danger men who Moyes and Manchester United must beware if they are to defeat the Spanish visitors.

3. Xabi Prieto

The 30-year-old midfielder is the captain and heartbeat of this Real Sociedad team. Prieto was instrumental in his side’s end of season run which saw them secure Champions League football.

Blessed with nibble footwork and expert delivery, Prieto has earned a reputation in Spain as being one of La Liga’s unsung heroes.

Having played for Sociedad for the whole of his career, Prieto is a fans’ favourite. He is adored for his loyalty to the club, especially as he is good enough to play for a bigger side.

The Spaniard’s finest performance came last season, when he netted a hat-trick against Real Madrid. Although Sociedad would go on to lose 4-3, Prieto produced a display worthy of winning any match.

Sociedad’s skipper is a penalty expert and also possesses lethal accuracy from free kicks, meaning United must be wary of tackles in and around the box.

Prieto faces a late fitness test to ensure he can make the encounter tonight. Sociedad will undoubtedly be praying that their captain is able to lead them out.

The post Man Utd vs Real Sociedad: 3 Players Moyes Must Beware Tonight appeared first on WhatCulture!.

Sami Khedira

With sixteen Real Madrid players away on international duty this week, Madridistas still had a lot to look forward to as La Liga took a break for the final round of World Cup Qualifying games. Real Madrid’s playing staff has been spread far and wide and have been competing on three continents, for eight different teams.

The team which called-up the most Real Madrid players was, of course, Spain. Both Alvaro Arbeloa and Sergio Ramos started and finished the game as Spain consolidated their position at the top of World Cup Qualifying Group I with a 2-1 win over Belarus, although neither Madrid defender could prevent Belarus grabbing a late consolation goal to spoil to Spaniards’ clean sheet. Iker Casillas was left on the bench for Spain owing to his status as his club’s number two goalkeeper and Isco was an unused sub as del Bosque chose to introduce the in-form trio of Koke, Iniesta and Negredo as Spain searched for a second half breakthrough.

Whilst Spain were busy beating Belarus, Group I opponents France were humiliating Australia 6-0 in Paris. Karim Benzema cut a depressed figure from the bench as Olivier Giroud masterfully lead the French frontline. Benzema did get himself on the scoresheet, however. Coming off the bench to score the sixth goal early in the second half with a confident finish at the near post from a low, left wing cross.

In keeping with the theme of goalscoring Madrid players, it was Sami Khedira who broke the deadlock for Germany against the Republic of Ireland on Friday evening as Germany wrapped up Group C with a comprehensive 3-0 victory. Khedira opened the scoring after 12 minutes with a deflected shot from just outside the box leaving the Irish defence with no chance. The dominating midfielder had earlier spoken of Germany’s need to score early to ensure the pressure of the game didn’t begin to build as Ireland looked to avoid another 6-1 thrashing – the score from the first game in Dublin. However, once Big Sami had opened the scoring, the result was never in doubt. This latest victory leaves Germany with 25 points from a possible 27, with one qualifier remaining.

Another Madrid player tasting victory this weekend was Brazil’s left-back, Marcelo. The pacey defender played the majority of the game as Scolari’s team fielded a strong side and comfortably beat South Korea 2-0. Marcelo was withdrawn late on in the game to keep the defender fresh for Brazil’s next friendly at home to Zambia. Whilst having no competitive games leading up to their home World Cup next summer, the Brazilians and particularly Marcelo will be delighted with the victory and clean sheet.

Perhaps the most impressive Madrid player on show was Argentina’s ngel Di Mar a. The winger captained his side for the night in-place of the injured pair of Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano and played some beautiful passes as the South Americans dispatched rivals Peru 3-1 – despite going behind early on. Di Mar a had a hand in both the first and second goals. First, his corner was finished at the second attempt by PSG striker Lavezzi, before his gorgeous blind pass to Palacio helped Lavezzi collect a second later on. With Argentina already qualified for the World Cup, this victory only added further gloss to a stellar qualifying performance.

There were certainly some disappointed Madrid players on Friday evening as both Croatia and Portugal failed to register victory in their penultimate qualifiers. In the early kick off, Luka Modri was mostly a by-stander as a powerful Belgium team swept aside Croatia for a 2-1 win. Modric displayed some good composure on the ball at times but failed to get into the game on a consistent basis thanks to the expert marshalling of the Belgian midfield of Witsel and Defour. Portugal faired slightly better but still have their World Cup dreams hanging in the balance as opponents Israel stole a late goal to take a share of the spoils in Lisbon. Pepe and Ronaldo started and finished the match but neither could muster a match winning contribution – with Ronaldo’s only gain from the night being a yellow card. Coentr o missed out due to suspension but will be available for Portugal’s final qualifying match against Luxembourg. The Portguese are guaranteed a play-off spot but that is by no means an easy route to Brazil as teams such as Turkey, Sweden and Croatia litter the remaining play-off spots.

On a brighter note, Spain’s U21 team won their third match of three to keep themselves top of their qualifying group as they bid to enter the UEFA U21 s European Championships in 2015. Jes , Carvajal and Morata all featured and Morata grabbed himself the winner as Spain triumphed 3-2 against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Morata’s goal emphasised the player’s growing confidence as he casually slotted home from a low, right wing cross without the need for a first touch.

With all the results in from the first batch of qualifiers and friendlies, Real Madrid’s players boast an international record of six wins, one draw and one defeat. The remaining eight fixtures involving the Madrid internationals will take place on Monday (Spain U21s), Tuesday (Brazil, Spain, Germany, France, Croatia, Portugal) and Wednesday (Argentina). I’ll be back with another report after those games.

The post Real Madrid Around The World: How Did The Internationals Do? appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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Phase one is complete for England. An eventual dismantling of a poor Montenegro side leaves the Three Lions one win away from the World Cup, barring any miracles from San Marino against second placed Ukraine.

It turned out to be a breath of fresh air from a normally conservative England side. Roy Hodgson’s decision to go more attacking worked and Andros Townsend skipped and slithered his way down the touchline in an impressive debut.

Next up is Poland who will have 18,000 fans cheering them on at Wembley and possess Robert Lewandowski, one of Europe’s most feared strikers after his four goal haul against Real Madrid in the Champions League last term.

Though the Polish side remain a potent threat, the media should be careful to overhype this outfit. They remain overmatched in many areas of the park and don’t exactly have a stunning record in thus far, even becoming the only team to concede to San Marino.

So here are five reasons why England can look forward to facing Poland instead of fear and nerves being the overriding emotion.

The post England vs Poland: 5 Reasons Three Lions Can Look Forward To Must-Win Game appeared first on WhatCulture!.

Franck Ribery

The World Cup qualifying stage reaches its dramatic conclusion tomorrow evening, and though nine countries in total have secured their tickets for the flight to Brazil, many more are still sweating over their places.

Least of all England, who must defeat arch-enemy Poland on Tuesday night or face the ignominy of scrapping it out in a two-legged play-off.

Group H is finely balanced as things stand with the Three Lions guaranteed at least second spot, but in danger of being leapfrogged by Ukraine should they slip up at Wembley Stadium.

With Ukraine playing pointless San Marino, a guaranteed three-pointer, anything less than victory for Roy Hodgson’s side tomorrow will be viewed as a disaster.

Already, the British tabloids have been digging up stories this week of one of England’s most heartbreaking of group stage eliminations.

This weekend marks the 40th anniversary since Sir Alf Ramsey’s England were knocked out of the qualifying stage of the 1974 World Cup by none other than Poland, which is perhaps just a little bit too coincidental for many’s liking.

And, as one country holds its collective breath, so too do many more of the world’s best footballing nations.

England are by no means alone when it comes to doubt over World Cup aspirations, and as we explain here, there could be one or two other surprise absentees on that plane to Rio…

Click “Next” to get started.

The post World Cup 2014: 5 Top Countries Who Face Oblivion appeared first on WhatCulture!.

Osasuna 0 3 Villarreal

The La Liga action continued this weekend with some big matches and a lot of goals. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal continued their 100% start to their league campaign.

On Friday night Almeria and Elche drew 2-2, meaning that both sides are still looking for their first victories of the season. Soriano put Almeria ahead after 10 minutes but Elche drew level with an Albacar penalty. Almeria took the lead with a penalty of their own, Verza scoring from the spot, but it wasn’t enough as Boakye scored a late equaliser to share the points.

Levante secured their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory against Rayo Vallecano. Ruben Garcia put Levante ahead and that was the difference at half-time. After the interval, Larrivey equalised with 12 minutes remaining on the clock but Ivanschitz scored a very late goal, after Rayo were reduced to 10 men as Lass was given his marching orders for lashing out.

Newly promoted Villarreal continued their perfect start to the season with a 3-0 victory away at Osasuna. Perbet gave the visitors the lead after 22 minutes and Auqino doubled the advantage on the half hour mark. Uche added a third 15 minutes before the final whistle and the Yellow Submarines rose to the top of La Liga, for the time being.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Celta Vigo drew 1-1 with Granada. Rafinha put the hosts ahead after half an hour but Piti equalised for Granada after 62 minutes. In the other game on Saturday, Valiente’s goal gave Real Valladolid a narrow 1-0 victory against Getafe.

Real Madrid kicked off Sunday’s action with a 3-1 victory against Athletic Bilbao. Isco scored twice to continue his impressive start at Real while Ronaldo got his first goal of the season. Ibai Gomez scored a late consolation for the Basques.

In the battle between last season’s 3rd and 4th placed sides, Athletico Madrid came out on top with a 2-1 victory away against Real Sociedad. David Villa gave Athletico the lead after 27 minutes and this advantage was doubled when Koke scored after 56 minutes. Prieto got Sociedad back into the game with 20 minutes remaining but it wasn’t enough.

A first-half Messi hat-trick gave Barcelona a 3-2 victory in Valencia, with Neymar starting his first La Liga match. Messi scored on the 11th, 39th and 41st minute to give the Catalans a comfortable lead before a quick-fire brace from Helder Postiga brought Valencia back into the game. However, there were to be no more goals in this thrilling tie.

Malaga picked up their first point of the season and left Sevilla looking for their first win after a 2-2 draw. Morales put Malaga, the visitors, ahead after 40 minutes but Gameiro equalised for Sevilla 4 minutes later. Roque Santa Cruz restored Malaga’s lead on the 68th minute but again, 4 minutes later Gameiro equalised and the points were shared.

In the other La Liga game, Espanyol and Real Betis played out a goalless draw.

The post La Liga Round-Up: Matchday 3 appeared first on WhatCulture!.

Uefa Champions League1

The draw for the 2013/14 Champions League took place in Monaco last Thursday with 5 British teams making it to the group stages. The groups promise to be as hotly contested as ever, with some stronger than others. Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal were all in pot A as the top seeds and were drawn in groups A, E and F respectively. Manchester City did relatively well out of their draw, being placed in group D alongside last years winners Bayern Munich. The unfortunate British team were Celtic, who have been drawn to face Barcelona, AC Milan and Ajax in the nicknamed ‘Group of Death’, group H.

With Europe’s top 32 teams once again ready to compete for one of football’s most coveted prizes, it is time to see who will make it out of the groups and into the last 16, where for many, the tournament begins!

Group A

United

Predicted Table:

1. Manchester United

2. Real Sociedad

3. Shakhtar Donetsk

4. Bayer Leverkusen

Following on from their exit in the round of 16 in last year’s competition, Manchester United will be looking to go much further this time around under new manager David Moyes. After being one of the top seeds, and first team to be drawn out, they have done relatively well to get a group such as this.

Real Sociedad had a great season last year in domestic football, finishing 4th in La Liga, just 10 points behind Atletico Madrid. In my mind they are United’s greatest threat to top spot, however in reality I think it will become a three-way battle for second, with United topping the group. Shakhtar are a good side and have been known to cause upsets at this level, but I am going to stick with the form and predict that United and Sociedad will progress.

The post Predicting Last 16 Of Champions League appeared first on WhatCulture!.

cristiano ronaldo

During the last 10 t0 15 years football has undergone huge changes throughout the game, from the rise of the use of agents to the influx of foreign players into domestic leagues.

One of the major aspects of the game that has changed the most is the tactical side of the game, particularly how the roles of certain positions on the pitch has changed – how the expectations of a player playing in a particular position has changed. A role that has perhaps undergone the biggest change is that of the wide player.

Prior to the overhaul of football tactics, the wide player played as a winger, and was essentially instructed to run down the line as fast as possible and then produce a good cross for on running team mates to get on the end of and hopefully score. The player didn’t need to possess an excellent football brain as their job was relatively simple. These wingers were usually set up in a 442 formation which in reality when in possession was a 424, with the wingers being stationed very high up the pitch.

Prior to the turn of the century, many managers were playing with a ‘number 10 , this is a player who is stationed just behind the striker, and looks to create opportunities for his team mates – namely the central striker and on rushing wingers. This player is traditionally skilful, possesses good vision and is easily able to evade challenges.

Managers then realised that these number 10 s were finding too much space against a 442 cum 424 formation so replaced one of their strikers with a deep lying midfielder, who’s sole responsibility was to stop the number 10 from thriving. Due to this ‘new breed’ of midfielder the number 10 became more of a rare position to see on the pitch amongst top teams, thus meaning many teams switched to a 433 formation. Due to the lack of a number 10 in the 433 formation it meant that he had to find himself a new position to play on the pitch. There were three options really – a striker, a central midfielder or what most did – become a wide man.

As you can imagine these number 10 s converted in to wide men were did not have the skill set to carry out the traditional functions of a wide player. This meant that the player would be stationed out wide whilst in the defensive phase of play, but whilst his team had the ball would then drift back in to his natural number 10 position, as this is where he felt more comfortable. This coincidentally happened at a similar time in which possession became a more important aspect of the game, so having useful passers in wide positions would only benefit the teams ability to retain ball possession. Modern day players who play in this position are David Silva, Juan Mata and often Andres Iniesta for Spain.

Arjen Robben

There has also been another modern day breed of wide player that has come through – The wide forward. This player developed due to the rise of one man striker formations, thus leaving the side potentially short of goal threats. This player plays very high up the pitch – often in line with the striker in a 433, often playing on the opposite side to their strongest foot – looking to cut in and shoot. The most prominent examples of these players in modern football are Cristiano Ronaldo and Arjen Robben.

The final modern role of the wide player is perhaps the most baffling to casual football fans – the defensive winger. The idea that an attacking position on the pitch can be filled by a player with a defensive duty makes no sense at face value. But when you consider the rise in attacking mentality of full backs it makes perfect sense. In recent years we have seen players such as Park Ji Sung stationed in wide area’s to try and stifle the attacking runs of the likes of Dani Alves.

It is likely that in the next decade we will again see changes in the role of the wide player, we don’t yet know what the changes will be, but they are sure to come.

The post How The Role Of The Wide Player Changed During the 2000 s appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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