Archive for February, 2013

Talent Watch: Joel Campbell

Joel Campbell


JoelCampbell  is a Costa Rican footballer who plays for La Liga side Real Betis on loan from Premier League club Arsenal and the Costa Rica national football team. Joel plays as a striker but can also be deployed on the wings. On 6 August, Costa Rica media reported that Campbell was set to sign a five-year deal with Arsenal after rejecting Sevilla and Fiorentina.

On 19 August 2011, Arsenal confirmed that they had signed Campbell. It was revealed on 27 August 2011 that he had failed to obtain a work permit to enable him to play in England. Campbell joined La Liga side Real Betis on a season-long loan. He made his debut on 25 August, coming on as a second-half substitute in Betis’ 2–1 defeat to Rayo Vallecano. Campbell Scored his first goal in a 3–2 win against Deportivo La Coruña. Campbell scored his second goal in a 2–0 victory against Levante.

He officially debuted in the senior Costa Rica national football team on 5 June 2011 in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, scoring one goal in a 5–0 win over Cuba. On 7 July 2011 he scored his second international goal, against Bolivia in the 2011 Copa América. He scored his third international goal in an amazing match against Spain that finished 2–2. He also scored against Wales in the Gary Speed memorial match which turned out to be the only goal in the match.

A regular at international youth level, Campbell made 22 appearances for Costa Rica at Under-17  and Under-20 level, scoring 18 goals in the process. With excellent natural raw pace, good movement and an eye for goal, Campbell has all the qualities to fit in with Arsenal’s intelligent and high tempo game. After a season at Lorient he is fully expected to gain a work permit and be part of Arsenal’s squad for the 2012/13 Premier League campaign.


Most Underrated Players in La Liga

Ignacio Camacho, Malaga

Ignacio CamachoNow bouncing up the table to a Champions League team and Malaga’s Ignacio Camacho.

Malaga are up to fourth place in the league again but, being under a ban from UEFA, will not compete in continental competition next season.

While the likes of Isco, Joaquin and Martin Demichelis have won plenty of plaudits for their roles in the season so far, Ignacio Camacho has been one of their most important and effective players.

Playing in a holding central midfield role, Camacho has been vital in protecting the back four and is competent in possession too. His deep role doesn’t allow him to be overly involved further forward, but he has contributed a couple of goals along the way.

Camacho has played in all but two league games this season.

Gary Medel, Sevilla

Granada CF v Sevilla FC - La LigaAnother holding midfielder, Gary Medel of Sevilla is a much more physical and aggressive type of midfielder than Camacho, but is another very effective player.

As well as his defensive traits, Medel loves to play sweeping long balls forward. Having made over 100 this season so far, he maintains an 81 percent success rate. It’s nothing aimless or simply to clear his lines; Medel’s forward passes help his team change the rhythm of the game and at times bring the best out of the likes of Jesus Navas with his pace.

Medel is also capable in the final third and has contributed five goals in the league this season, with Sevilla currently 12th in the table.



Abdel Barrada, Getafe

Abdel BarradaGetafe still have an outside chance of achieving European qualification this season, currently lying in ninth place in La Liga.

One of their best and most underrated players is Abdel Barrada, a Moroccan international who appeared at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.

Barrada plays in an advanced central midfield position and much of his team’s attacking play goes through his feet.

Though he is a technical player, Barrada is also tall and fairly strong, helping him maintain possession under pressure.

He has contributed six assists for his team this season.




Ever Banega, Valencia

Ever BanegaValencia’s Ever Banega is known for being a player who is good on the ball, capable of being a playmaking central midfielder either from deep or advanced roles, but somehow he escapes mention still when discussing the top talents in the league.

Ever has suffered with injuries at times but at his best he is one of the more consistent ball-players in the league (who doesn’t already play for Barcelona). A 90 percent pass completion rate in the Champions League this season is testament to that ability, though perhaps even he will be unable to help his team past PSG in the quarterfinals.

He has 14 caps for Argentina and is now only 24 years of age; he could potentially become one of his country’s best players if he maintains fitness and continues to improve, and he certainly has the quality to continue playing Champions League level football.

Quite possibly elsewhere if Valencia fail to qualify for the competition this season.

Ronaldo Will Prove Unstoppable in 2013 Copa Del Rey Final

Ronaldo pumped


Cristiano Ronaldo fired Real Madrid into the 2013 Copa del Rey final with a dominant brace against Barcelona’s defense, and he will prove unstoppable once again when the final against Atletico Madrid actually takes place at the end of the 2012-13 season.

The superstar winger has simply been in blistering form for several years now really, and is the heart and soul of Los Blancos’ attack. He is their go-to player, their match-winner and their difference-maker—plus every other phrase or metaphor you could ever think of in relation to his importance. It’s probably a bit far to suggest that Ronaldo is Real Madrid, but the truth is he’s their most significant part, and he’ll prove that in the final this year as well.

When Madrid played their cross-town rivals earlier in the year, it was Los Blancos who emerged with a 2-0 victory—thanks to the brilliance of Ronaldo.

The Portuguese winger netted the opening goal of the match with an absolutely delightful free kick, and continued his attacking dominance throughout the match. He would set up Madrid’s second goal for Mesut Ozil and hit the post two other times during the match—scoring a phenomenal perfect 10 on WhoScored’s match rating scale, which certainly isn’t an easy feat to do.


Madrid simply had no answer on either flank for Ronaldo, and they’ll likely have the same thing happen to them in the final, given the form the winger is in. Domestically, Ronaldo has netted 24 goals and five assists from as many 23 appearances.

he fact that this is a final should also strike fear into the minds of Atletico Madrid, with Ronaldo possessing an incredible record in finals. His lone final for Madrid saw him score the only goal in a Copa del Rey winning match against Barcelona in 2011—something that Atletico will no doubt be wanting to avoid in the 2013 version of that match.

Ronaldo has also won five other finals in his career—scoring in three of them—and will look to build on that record with a strong showing this time around.

Judging on what we’ve seen so far this year, you’d expect nothing else from the Portuguese international and his dynamic finishing ability.

Atletico Madrid won’t be able to come up with an answer to him here, much like they couldn’t when they met earlier in the season and much like Barcelona couldn’t when they played in the Copa del Rey semifinals. And without an answer, Ronaldo will thrive, and Real Madrid will win.

Talent Watch: Davy Klaassen

Davy Klaassen




Davy Klaassen  is a Dutch professional football player, currently playing as a Striker for Dutch side Ajax Amsterdam and Netherlands U-19.  He made his debut for the first team in the UEFA Champions League group stage away draw (0–0) against Olympique Lyonnais on 22 November 2011 by replacing Lorenzo Ebecilio in the 85th minute. He made his Eredivisie debut on November 27 as a substitute against NEC Nijmegen and scored a minute later.

Joining Ajax at the age of 11 in 2004, Davy Klaassen has been part of ‘Jong Ajax’, an academy which has produced players like Dennis Bergkamp, Wesley Sneijder and Johan Cruyff. The 19 year-old striker made his debut in November 2011 against NEC and scored a minute later to join fellow graduates Johan Cruyff, Patrick Kluivert and Marco van Basten in making his debut. He first built a reputation during the AEGON Future Cup tournament in 2010 when Klaassen was voted player of the competition. His stock continued to rise in 2012 in the NextGen Series where he has scored six goals, only one behind Barcelona’s Jean-Marie Dongou. During the semi-final Ajax tore Liverpool apart with a convincing 6-0 victory where Klaassen scored twice and drew comparisons to Bergkamp. He is currently captain of the Netherlands Under-19 side and has attracted attention to Manchester United.


Eredivisie : 2011–12

4 Things We Learned from El Clasico

Lionel Messi Is Tired

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - Copa Del Rey - Semi Final Second LegYou can’t play 50-plus games per season, never mind international matches, and expect to retain a consistently high level of play—especially when the bar is set as high as it is for Lionel Messi.

The Argentine maestro has appeared visibly tired in recent matches (he was a shadow of himself against AC Milan in the Champions League last week) and was rubbed off the ball with relative ease on several occasions on Tuesday.

With Barcelona having all but locked up the Primera Division title, look for Messi to be given some extra nights off during the stretch run, although by then it could be too late for the Catalans’ European ambitions.


Barcelona Struggle When Faced with Aggressive Man-Marking

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - Copa Del Rey - Semi Final Second LegWe saw it against AC Milan last week, and again against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

When the opposition comes out and aggressively man-marks the Barcelona players, the Catalan giants tend to struggle.

Against Milan at the San Siro it was Stephan El Shaarawy sticking like glue to Dani Alves; against Madrid at Camp Nou it was Cristiano Ronaldo keeping track of Alves and Alvaro Arbeloa running up and down the opposite flank alongside Jordi Alba.

If you take Barcelona’s full-backs out of the game you take their width away. And while it requires incredible concentration to adhere to marking assignments, when executed properly Barcelona can be dealt with considerably more easily.

Possession Stats Are Pretty Much Meaningless

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - Copa Del Rey - Semi Final Second LegOnce again Barcelona saw the majority of the ball, and once again all their position came to nothing.

At the halftime whistle the hosts were judged to have enjoyed upwards of 65 percent possession, and yet they not only trailed by a goal but had created very little.

While perimeter passing inflates the much-ballyhooed possession statistic, it doesn’t mean much. When Madrid were on the ball they tended to be quicker and more intentional in their passing, and it paid off, in particular with Ronaldo’s second of the night following an effective counterattack.



Ronaldo Is Better Than Messi (in Clasico Matches)

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - Copa Del Rey - Semi Final Second LegWhen Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring after 13 minutes in Barcelona, he became the first player ever to score in seven successive Clasico contests. The goal, which gave Real Madrid the 2-1 lead on aggregate, was also his sixth in six matches at Camp Nou and 39th in 40 matches in all competitions so far this season.

His second of the night, scored in the 57th minute, pretty much finished off the tie.

Lionel Messi, by comparison, came into Tuesday’s match with just three goals in his last seven Clasico appearances, but with 49 goals in 39 matches in all competitions he has a healthy scoring lead over Ronaldo.

But Ronaldo’s reputation as a big-game player continues to grow with every big game he plays. It’s hard to believe he was once considered a player who wilted under pressure.

In addition to scoring against Manchester United in the first leg of this season’s Champions League Round of 16, he almost single-handedly guided Portugal into the quarterfinals of the 2012 European Championship. And in 2008, he scored in the Champions League final against Chelsea.

And then, of course, there is his record in El Clasico.


Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund Preview: Champions look for Pokal glory

Javi Martinez and Gotze





Lahm, Van Buyten, Dante, Alaba
Martinez, Schweinsteiger
Muller, Kroos, Robben

Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer
Gundogan, Bender
Blaszczykowski, Gotze, Reus

Bayern Munich will be without the serivces of star man Franck Ribery, who is suspended after being sent off in the last round against Augsburg, with Arjen Robben expected to step in for the Frenchman.

However, Javi Martinez has shaken off a minor groin strain which forced him off early against Werder Bremen at the weekend, while Daniel Van Buyten has shaken off the flu.

Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, will be boosted by the return of Robert Lewandowski, who has missed their recent league games due to suspension.

Meanwhile, Mats Hummels is fine after being withdrawn at half-time against Borussia Monchengladbach with a thigh problem, while Jakub Blaszczykowski has recovered from a minor injury.

  • Bayern Munich have conceded just two goals since the start of 2013, both came in their last two matches.
  • These two teams met in the final of the competition last season, with Dortmund recording a 5-2 victory over their rivals.
  • Legendary coach Ottmar Hitzfeld won this trophy three times with Bayern, but never during his six years with BVB.
  • Borussia Dortmund have lost just once in their last seven meetings with Bayern Munich – in the Supercup in August.
  • Mats Hummels started his career at the Allianz Arena, and moved to BVB in 2009, initially on loan.
  • Ten of the 19 players called up to Germany’s squad for the recent fixture against France play for one of these clubs.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Marseille Preview: Beckham to make first start as Ligue 1 giants clash on Coupe duty

Zlatan Ibrahimovic





Van der Wiel, Armand, Alex, Maxwell
Beckham, Matuidi,
Menez, Pastore
Lavezzi, Ibrahimovic

Olympique de Marseille
Fanni, N’Koulou, Lucas Mendes, Morel
Barton, Romao
Kadir, Valbuena, Ayew

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti will hand David Beckham a first start in PSG colours, after the ex-England captain came off the bench for a starring cameo against Olympique de Marseille on Sunday.

The 37-year-old is set to replace the suspended Marco Verratti in the middle of the park, alongside either Blaise Matuidi or Clement Chantome, as Ancelotti seeks to shuffle his pack slightly for the Coupe de France clash.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could also be rested, in favour of Kevin Gameiro, though otherwise it is likely to be largely unchanged from the side that beat Elie Baup’s men just two days ago.

For Marseille, the visitors welcome back Jordan Ayew from suspension, after the Ghana international missed Sunday’s knee clash. Elder brother Andre is a doubt after picking up a knock at Parc des Princes, and could well be replaced by the younger sibling.

Jeremy Morel is also uncertain to play, leaving Marseille short at left-back, with 18-year-old Baptiste Aloe ready to step in should the former Lorient player fail to recover in time.

  • Paris Saint-Germain sit atop of the Ligue 1 table, three points clear of Lyon, and eight ahead of Marseille.
  • Carlo Ancelotti’s side beat fifth division Arras 4-3, and Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse 3-1 to make it this far in the competition.
  • Les Parisiens have lifted the Coupe de France eight times, the second highest total in history.
  • Both PSG and Marseille meet for the fourth time this season, the last three coming at the Parc des Princes.
  • Marseille sit third in Ligue 1, and are just a point ahead of high-flying Nice in the race for the Champions League.
  • L’OM have won the Coupe de France 10 times – a record. They have not lifted the famous trophy since 1989 however.
  • Sunday’s game at the Parc des Princes was the first time in 14 games that OM had failed to score against their arch-rivals