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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Goals Galore!

After everything that's happened between the last post & this one, in what's being labelled the best World Cup ever, we'd need to write a novel if we were to recap it all. So instead we'll leave you with 3 goals of the tournament to watch as you wait in anticipation for Sunday's final between Germany and Argentina (We correctly predicted 50% of the final!).

Van Persie in Hollands 5-1 opener against Spain. 

Tim Cahill's goal against the Dutch in their Group B game.

Finally, my personal favourite, James Rodriguez's technically sublime goal in Colombia's last 16 game against Uruguay.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Results Round-up: 13th-15th

If 3 more games (including Germany v Portugal) aren't enough to brighten up your Monday, here's a blog post will all the biggest World Cup stories so far...but don't get too excited, we wouldn't want you to dislocate an ankle*...Now I could just list all the results from the weekend's games, but I'm pretty sure you've seen/heard them. So instead here is a link to the BBC World Cup website, where all results are listed along with current tables and upcoming here to see that. In this post I'm going to concentrate on the highlights and surprises of the weekend's plethora of football.

They say Friday the 13th is unlucky for some, and on this date, it was for Spain. Current champions Spain suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Dutch. After a 27th minute penalty by Xabi Alonso put them in the lead, nobody expected holland to go on and put the game to bed in the manner they did. Van Persie brought them level just before half time with a stunning header (no really, you need to see it if you haven't already). In the second half VP scored another goal, along with Robben scoring 2, and de Vrij. However Spain fans shouldn't feel too disheartened as they lost to Switzerland in the opening game of the last World Cup and we all know what happened.

The second shocker of the weekend has to be underdogs Costa Rica's 3-1 win over Uruguay. Cavani put Uruguay ahead with a penalty in the first half before Costa Rica fought back in style in the second, making the final score 3-1. To put their truly unbelievable comeback into perspective, here's a refresh of the odds going in to the competition: Uruguay 28/1 to win & Costa Rica 2500/1 to win. As always football proves to be unpredictable. This result also leaves Group D wide open and keeps England's chances alive, following their defeat to Italy.

Which brings us to the Italy v England game which took place on Saturday night in Manaus. A later kick off and the dulcet tones of Phil Neville may have been enough to send even the most lively spectator to sleep, but luckily the game was exciting enough to keep everyone awake until the final whistle. As expected Pirlo was a joy to watch, and it's pretty clear that regardless of who you support, you've got to love the man. His dummy to set up the first goal was particularly fantastic, he knew the goal was scored before it had even touched Marchisio's boot. In addition to this, youngster Raheem Sterling started the match and was fantastic from start to finish. Now whilst most 19 year olds are playing Call of Duty and eating Coco Pops with spoons found under their beds, this lad is opening Englands World Cup campaign in front of 40,000 fans and millions around the world and you would never have known. Raheem also featured on our 'Top 5 youngsters to watch out for' list 2 years ago! England were a threat going forward for huge parts of the game, and Daniel Sturridge (24) scored a fantastic equalizer with an assist from Wayne Rooney. However the refreshing performance wasnt enough to stop the Italians, with Mario Balotelli grabbing the winner and securing them 3 points. There are many positives for England to take from the game, in their quest to qualify from the of the main ones being don't let Wayne take corners!

*Seriously though, all jokes aside, we send best wishes to England physio Gary Lewin (who fractured & dislocated his ankle celebrating the Daniel Sturridge equalizer on Saturday night.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Joga Bonito: Let the games begin!

Those of who you managed to survive 2 hours of Adrian Chiles (if you have no idea who he is, count yourself lucky) will have witnessed  the 2014 World Cup kick off, in an action packed opening game with hosts Brazil against Croatia. Doves were released at the start of the match, representing world peace. After the final whistle, and a few questionable decisions, we might need a few more doves.

 As always with football, things didn't begin as expected with Marcelo scoring an own goal inside 11 minutes. However Brazil managed to pull it back and win 3-1 with 2 Neymar goals (I predicted him as top goalscorer, so far so good) and an Oscar strike to put the game to bed. Despite the defeat, I still think Croatia will finish 2nd in their group after the Brazilians. First game of the tournament ends, predictably, with a Brazil win. 

World Cup Predictions: Odds, Opinions and Outsiders

64 years ago all eyes were focused on Brazil for the 1950 World Cup, those eyes watched Brazil suffer a 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in the final. Tomorrow the World Cup returns to Brazil, but will they let it slip again on home turf? In this post we take a look at who's favoured to win in 2014, with predictions from the bookies, the professionals and the fans.

If I were a gambler (which of course I am) it would make sense to throw a few quid on Brazil, who are favourites across the board with Sky Bet giving odds of 11/4 for them to be outright winners. However I also think Argentina at 4/1 is also a decent shout. In fact as someone who always backs the underdog I'd probably have my money on Argentina if the two met in the final. Could history repeat itself in Brazil this year? Odds of Uruguay as outside winners are 28/1. England are 25/1 as are Italy. USA have odds of 250/1. At the other end of the betting spectrum are Iran, Costa Rica and Australia at 2500/1, roughly the same odds given by Ladbrokes last season for my Grandad to become next Everton manager. It was a close call between him and Martínez but, the odds weren't in his favour. 

Now onto the professionals predictions, which are pretty much split between Brazil & Argentina. Here's a list of who they picked as their outright winner.

Gary Lineker - Argentina 
Alan Shearer - Brazil
Phil Neville - Argentina
Pat Nevin - Brazil 
Robbie Savage - Argentina

Finally lets take a look at what the fans think, as expected most people are going for Brazil with a few saying Argentina. There are also a few who are favouring current champions Spain, and there's a vote for Germany in there. 

Personally I'm going to say Argentina, but Uruguay will have an impressive tournament. Obviously Brazil will be..well Brazil, with the added fire of not wanting to let the cup leave Rio de Janeiro after the final. We may not know who will win, but one things for sure: the next month is going to be a fantastic month of football. 

Who do you think will be crowned winners on the 13th July? It it Brazil's to lose? Comment!

Monday, 9 June 2014

World Cup Series: Stadium lowdown

Okay, so in this post we are going to take a look at 5 of the 12 host stadiums in Brazil for this summer's World Cup!

1. Arena de São Paolo - São Paolo
Capacity - 61,606

This stadium is currently home to the Brazilian club Corinthians and has a capacity of 48,234 but for the 2014 World Cup 20,000 temporary seats have been added. This stadium plays host to the opening match of the tournament between Brazil and Croatia and 5 games following this including a Semi-Final. Construction of this stadium began in May 2011 and it was completed this year, the opening game will be the first played using its full capacity with temporary seats.

2. Estadio Mineirao - Belo Horizonte
Capacity - 58,259

This stadium was opened in 1965 to accommodate the evolution of football in the surrounding state of Minas Gerais, and is currently the largest stadium in the state. The stadium was recently renovated, and was host to 3 fixtures in the Confederations Cup last year. It will play host to a number of games in the World Cup including England v Costa Rica & a Semi-Final.

3. Estadio Do Maracana - Rio de Janeiro 
Capacity - 76,804

Estadio Do Maracana was originally opened in 1950 to host the World Cup and was the scene for Brazil's 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in the final of the competition. It is currently the largest stadium in Brazil and South America and will host this years final on 13th July as well as several other games. It was partially rebuilt for the Confederations Cup and World Cup.

4. Estadio Nacional - Brasilia 
Capacity - 68,009

This stadium, in the capital city of Brazil, was built in 1974 and is mainly used to host football matches. However it is multi purpose and has been the venue for artists such as Beyonce and Aerosmith. A renovation of the stadium has recently taken place in preparation for the World Cup. It was also recently renamed to pay homage to Mané Garrincha, a Brazilian legend who won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962.

5. Arena da Amazônia - Manaus 
Capacity - 42,374

Construction of this stadium began in 2011, and was still being completed in February of this year resulting in doubts as to whether it would be completed in time for the tournament. However it hosted an opening match on 9th March between 2 northern Brazilian teams. This stadium is the location for England's opening game against Italy, along with 3 other fixtures. There has been criticism regarding playing conditions due to the extreme climate of Manaus in which humidity can reach 80%. Due to this, 3 minute water breaks have been introduced.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

World Cup Series: Top 5

It's only a few days before the 2014 World Cup kicks off with hosts Brazil in their opening match against Croatia, in order to get us all in the mood we're launching our World Cup Series! This means every day until the 12th of June there will be a WC top 5 list posted...and what better way to launch this than with the competitions all time TOP GOALSCORERS!

1. Ronaldo - 15 goals

Ronaldo played 19 games in his World Cup career which gives him a goal average of 0.79. He starred in the competition in 1998, 2002 and 2006. In 2002 he won the Golden Shoe with 8 goals, remarkable considering his appearance in these finals marked his return from injury. He suffered from a ruptured cruciate ligament in his right knee in April 2000 which prevented him from featuring in any of the qualifiers. He retired in 2011 following an illustrious career (seriously we'd need a whole post to name his achievements) and is one of the ambassadors of this years World Cup in Brazil. 

     2.  Gerd Müller - 14 goals

Gerd appeared for Germany in the 1970 World Cup and the following in 1974. He played a total of 13 games resulting in a goal average of 1.08. He is considered one of the most prolific goalscorers of all time, and until beaten by Lionel Messi in 2012, held the record for most goals scored in a calendar year with 85. He began his career at TSV 1861 Nordlingen, who renamed their stadium in his honour in 2008, before spending a successful 15 years at Bayern Munich notching up 398 goals. In 2014 at the age of 68 he remains involved with football as assistant manager of Bayern Munich II.

3. Miroslav Klose - 14 goals

Klose is our second German in the list and the only member who is still active. He also scored 14 goals featuring in 2002, 2006 and most recently 2010 starring in 19 matches and giving him a goal average of 0.74. He played for both Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and signed for Serie A side Lazio in 2011. He is all time top scorer for the German national side, with 69 goals in 132 appearances. He is confirmed in the German squad for this years world cup, which means 2 goals could move him to the top of the list!

4. Just Fontaine - 13 goals

 Perhaps the most remarkable on the list, Just Fontaine managed to grab 4th place with only one appearance in the 1958 World Cup for France. He scored 13 goals in 6 games which gives him an impressive goal average of 2.17. His club career saw him score 122 goals in 6 seasons for Ligue 1 side Stade Reims reaching the European cup final in 1959 against Real Madrid. A recurring injury forced him to retire at 28, in 1962. Since then he has managed a handful of both national and club sides including PSG, Morroco and even France (despite being replaced after only 2 games).

5. Pelé - 12 goals

It wouldn't be a list without Pelé, most successful league goal scorer in the world, and he secures 5th place on the list with a WC goal average of 0.86. He starred in 4 tournaments for Brazil, playing 14 matches and scoring 12 goals. There's not much you can write about Pelé as his reputation speaks for itself. He has won the World Cup 3 times and scored 650 goals in 694 games for both Santos and the New York Cosmos. He retired in 1977 but remains heavily involved with football and is often considered the greatest player of all time.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Sergio Ramos: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Throughout the years the numerous hairstyles of Sergio Ramos have caught the attention of the pubic almost as much as his skills on the pitch. In this post we take a look back at some of his hairdos (and don'ts!)

The 'Genesis' of Ramos hairology.
18 years old, pre nose job & sporting some lengthy locks!

The 'Original Ombré'
Sergio debuted some bleached ends in his early days at Real Madrid.

The 'Headband'
During the 2010 World Cup Ramos wore a headband, complete with his name. You know, just in case.

The 'GHD'
Sergio dons an impressively styled barnet, with waves that make me want to visit the hairdressers

                                                                     The 'Porcupine'
                            Sergio spices things up with an...interesting twist on his new short 'do.

The 'Blonde Bombshell'
This one certainly divided opinion, but didn't stay too long. Sergio ditched the bleach after deciding blondes don't have more fun.

The 'Sergio back and sides'
His most recent style, worlds away from his long haired days. Will this short do be short lived?

Now you've seen the selection, we want to know which one you prefer! Comment below with your favourite, or not so favourite!