Monday, May 30, 2011

Nani Wants Berbatov to Stay at Manchester United

This article was written by Pete South, follow him on Twitter @peterwsouth.

Manchester United winger Nani has begged with striker Dimitar Berbatov to stay at Old Trafford after the Bulgarian was left out of the squad which lost to Barcelona in the Champions League final. Speculation surrounding the future of the former Spurs forward began to increase after he was repeatedly left out of the United team, with youngster Javier Hernandez taking his place in the line-up. Adding to this, Michael Owen was given a surprise inclusion on the bench for Saturday’s final at Wembley.

Nani was a substitute as Man Utd were out-classed by Barcelona in the final two days ago, eventually going down 3-1 thanks to goals from Pedro, Lionel Messi, and David Villa. With a host of English and Spanish sides said to be interested in the services of Berbatov this season, Nani believes he still has a future with Manchester United.

Here's what  Nani said regarding Berbatov:
"I don't know what he has in mind but everyone knows he's a fantastic player... He has scored a lot of goals for us, finished as the top scorer in the league, and I would like him to play for Manchester United again next season."

Manchester United's top scorer, Dimitar Berbatov
The Portuguese winger then added:

"I don't know which players will be coming in but most important is that the ones who stay fight for us."

Berbatov’s absence from the bench on Saturday paved the way for rumours suggesting he had stormed out after not being picked, something the players agent described as “nonsense” however.

With rumours about an impending bid from the Premier League champions for Aston Villa’s Ashley Young, Berbatov may find his chances with the first team limited. As before Saturday’s final, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson spoke of a desire to sign some additional players to help his side secure a 4th European title next season.

Another name linked with the Old Trafford club is Atletico Madrid’s Sergio Aguero, who is interested in leaving Atletico Madrid. But having worn more that his fair share of Copa America shirts in the past and with the 2011 tournament falling mid-way through the 2011/12 Premier League season, Ferguson may be put off from the Argentine.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Best Images From Barcelona's Champions League Victory

 After finishing up the match report of Barcelona's 3-1 win over Manchester United in the Champions League final, I realized that this amazing victory deserves two posts. And so, because my "Best Images from..." compilations (Manchester City's FA Cup win and Real Madrid's Copa del Rey win) were so popular, I've decided to make one for this Barcelona victory.

Here are some of the best images from Barcelona's 3-1 victory over Manchester United. Congratulations to FC Barcelona for winning the trophy in beautiful style. I hope you enjoy this latest set of photos.

The Champions League trophy waits for the match to start as Wembley stadium fills up.

A close-up of the beautiful trophy, to be lifted by the European champions.

After a strong start by United, Barcelona eased into possession and scored the opener with Pedro.

The Spaniard ran off to celebrate...

with an overjoyed Dani Alves.

Rooney equalized soon after, celebrating with Evra.

As the first half finishes, the two coaches ponder the 1-1 scoreline.

In the second half Messi smashed a low shot past Edwin van der Saar to make it 2-1.

As the Dutch keeper complains to his defence... 

Messi runs off to celebrate.

A brilliant goal scored by a brilliant player.

David Villa scored the third goal with a beautiful curling shot.

Villa's effort was untouchable as Edwin van der Saar tried his best.

The final whistle sounds as Pique and Abidal have a celebratory hug.

Champagne is sprayed as Javier Hernandez walks off dejectedly. 

At the end of the match, three of the scorers in the match shake hands.
Edwin van der Saar's last game wasn't his best.

Guardiola is launched into the air by his players.

Barcelona let Abidal lift the trophy first, a wonderful moment for the fullback.

Staff and players celebrate with the trophy.

Guardiola lifts his second Champions League trophy as a coach

As Gerard Pique steals the net...

David Villa celebrates with the trophy.

Barca's players and staff dance around the trophy in the center circle.

Man of the match Lionel Messi smiles with the gleaming trophy as he lets us know that he has won it three times now.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Barcelona Win Champions League With 3-1 Domination

Barcelona have won their fourth Champions League. It's their second in the past three years, and it was won with an amazing display of dominance. While Manchester United offered some resistance in the first half, by the end of the match we saw why Barcelona's ideal style of playing is loved by so many around the world.

The match started with Manchester United piling on the pressure. Sir Alex Ferguson had obviously prepared his players to disrupt Barcelona's passing in the first ten minutes, and while they did that well, they weren't able to keep the work rate up throughout the entire game. Yet the first few minutes looked shaky for the blaugrana. The passes were off their mark, players seemed slow to react, and the ball wasn't in their possession as they wanted it to be. The central defensive partnership of Pique and Mascherano wasn't looking very solid, especially against an energetic Hernandez and a fiery Rooney.

While United pushed well their strong spell soon ended, and Barcelona became familiar with keeping the ball. Slowly, Barca made their way up the field, always keeping the ball from a now tired Manchester United team. Xavi and Iniesta were both brilliant in their display of passing, each one weaving magnificent attacks together with their pinpoint passing. The Barcelona system was slowly beginning to tear Manchester United apart. David Villa was distracting the defence, Messi was mesmerizing the crowd, and Pedro got the first goal.

Rooney celebrates his equalizer
Xavi's lightning quick through ball arrived perfectly for Pedro to control, and then slot past Edwin van der Saar for the opening goal. Manchester United had given Xavi too much time with the ball at his feet, and everyone seemingly forgot about Pedro, except Xavi. The 27th minute opener seemed fitting as the possession stats constantly rose towards Barcelona's favour.

But United flared up with a reaction. Their incessant pressing returned as they were able to put Mascherano, the weak link of the Barca machine, under pressure. Rooney spearheaded the attack, and a quick pair of passes between him and Javier Hernandez put the Barcelona defence into a bit of trouble as United equalized. Hernandez's square ball to Rooney was perfect for the Englishman to slap into the Barcelona net in the 34th minute. But Barcelona weren't very worried. They kicked off and continued playing, coming close to scoring several times before the halftime whistle blew.

In the second half, Barcelona's passing was the spectacle. It's difficult to explain how instrumental Xavi and Iniesta were in just about anything Barcelona did. The two players were omnipresent, keeping possession, and winning the ball back with immediate pressure if they lost it. Abidal was also immense for Barcelona. His shifting to the center of the defence when Dani Alves pushed forward allowed Barcelona to play with three at the back, giving the team plenty of players when going forward. It's his movement and cover which allowed the Barcelona system to seamlessly operate.
Villa celebrating his goal which sealed the final at 3-1

When the pieces fit perfectly in the system, individual brilliance can shine through. Lionel Messi who had been brought down by a frustrated Valencia plenty of times, decided to make his mark on the game. A darting run through the middle of the field was topped off with a low finish past the United keeper. The goal was magnificent, and the Argentine showed us yet again why we should be lauding him as the best player in the game.

After Messi's amazing winner, David Villa produced some magic as well. In the 70th minute he stopped the ball on the edge of United's box and curled the ball into the top-right corner. It was a magnificent goal which even if Edwin van der Saar tried to stop it, he had no chance of touching the perfectly placed ball.

From here, Barcelona gave the world a lesson in passing and pressing. Josep Guardiola's ideal style of play materialized itself beautifully on the field, with Xavi as the professor, showing us all the importance of passing. And as the clock ticked away, Manchester United almost resigned themselves to the loss. While Sir Alex Ferguson tried putting in Nani to inject some pace and renewed fight, the Portuguese winger was unable to motivate his teammates. Barcelona on the other hand substituted Keita, Puyol, and Afellay in the final five minutes, as Scholes was also subbed on for United.

Abidal lifting the trophy for Barcelona. A wonderful touch by the Spanish club to let him lift the trophy first.

It was a final well disputed, but Barcelona's brilliance was unstoppable. Manchester United did their best in the first minutes, trying to contain Xavi and Iniesta, but the pair of Spaniards were unfazed. Their passing was what gave Barcelona the majority of possession (68% Barcelona, 32% Manchester United). This 3-1 victory has helped define a team which stands the test of time, and can be considered the greatest club side in at least the past ten years. Congratulations to FC Barcelona for the amazing victory.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Atletico Madrid Could Lose David De Gea and Sergio "Kun" Aguero

David De Gea has apparently already joined Man Utd.

Atletico Madrid have had a fairly quiet season, especially compared to last season when they won the Europa League. While at the beginning of this season Atletico won the UEFA European Supercup over Inter Milan, after that they went on to place seventh in La Liga, not qualifying for any European competitions for next season.

In that European Super Cup victory two stars played exceptionally, helping Atleti win the trophy. Sergio Aguero scored one of the goals in the 2-0 victory, and David De Gea saved a crucial penalty taken by Diego Milito. Now, Atletico Madrid could see both of those key players leave the club over the summer. Throughout this season, Sergio Aguero and David De Gea have proved to be important, maybe even irreplaceable players.

Aguero has scored 27 goals in all competitions for Atletico Madrid while providing six assists as well. As the season's top goalscorer for Atleti, Aguero has dribbled around the best defenders in the Champions League and La Liga, attracting the attention of many clubs for years now. He's still a young player soon turning 23 years-old, and while about a month ago he said he wanted to stay at Atletico Madrid, he has now seemingly changed his mind.

Aguero might sign for city rivals Real Madrid!
He says it's the right time to go for him, and that it has nothing to do with money. While Atletico Madrid fans might be slightly confused and unhappy with the mixed messages the Argentine has been sending out, it's important to remember that Aguero has scored over 100 goals for Atletico since joining the club.

Atletico might be losing Kun, and it's almost certain that their 19 year-old David De Gea will be leaving Madrid. It has been revealed that he has practically already signed for Manchester United, and all that is missing are the official announcements. The fee is rumored to be around 16-19 million Pounds, with which potential added bonuses could turn out to be quite a hefty profit for Atletico Madrid. While De Gea has a few things to sort out with his agent, Sir Alex Ferguson seems happy to have signed what should be Edwin van der Saar's replacement.

Regarding who Atletico Madrid could buy to replace the pair, most of the news has been about replacing "Kun" Aguero. Espanyol's Italian-Argentine Osvaldo could join Atletico for around 10 million Euros, but there have also been murmurs regarding Diego from Wolfsburg and Porto's Falcao or maybe even Hulk.

It will be a big blow for Atletico losing Aguero, especially if he joins the city rivals Real Madrid. But there are other clubs keeping an eye on him, including Chelsea who want the player to take a pay cut to join. If "Kun" decides to sign for Real Madrid, we could be in for a few very interesting upcoming Madrid derbys. And if Aguero does join Real, and De Gea leaves for Manchester United, who will be between the sticks to stop Aguero from scoring against his former club?

If you're interested in following all things Atletico Madrid, check out Madrid Atleticos. Some great writers there who report anything regarding Atleti.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Udinese Reach Champions League Football for Next Season

While the Serie A has lost its next season fourth Champions League spot to the German Bundesliga, next season will be the last one in which we'll have the chance to see four Italian teams in Europe's top competition. Udinese have made it to the Serie A's fourth Champions League spot, just edging ahead of Lazio thanks to a superior goal difference.

Udinese's season has been a fantastic one thanks to their attacking style of play brought by their coach Francesco Guidolin. The tactician imprinted an expansive style of "pass and move" which earned Udinese the nickname piccolo-Barca, which translates to "little Barca". And just like how Barcelona have Leo Messi, Udinese have their own magical goalscorer, Antonio Di Natale. The 33 year-old captain of Udinese scored 28 goals in the Serie A for Udinese, earning the top goalscorer award in Italy for the second season running.

Udinese coach Guidolin embracing Di Natale
Every hero has a sidekick, and Di Natale's is the Chilean, Alexis Sanchez. With 12 goals in the Serie A this season, Sanchez has terrorized defences with his speed and dribbling. His creativity and versatility allowed Guidolin to pair him with Di Natale, forming an unparalleled attacking couple. Yet Sanchez will most likely be moving away from Udine in the summer, as his talent has caught the eye of Manchester City, Manchester United, Inter Milan, and many other top European clubs. 

What makes Sanchez special is the fact that he is a complete forward. He can be played on either wing of a 4-3-3, as a forward in a 4-4-2, or even as a trequartista or attacking midfielder in a formation like the 4-3-1-2. Not only can Sanchez dribble by just about any defender with his trickery and change of pace, but he also has great vision for picking out passes and creating assists. At just 22 years-old, Sanchez has plenty of time to develop, and can easily become a star of the modern game if used in the proper system.

While Udinese has been reliant on this duo for goals, what has helped Guidolin's fight to achieve Champions League football is the unity in the team. It's said that at the beginning of the season he invited every player, one by one, to his house for a hearty dinner, where he got to know each one and let them know of their importance in Udinese's Serie A campaign. This unity shines through in a team which really plays as an organism. The One-touch passing has cut through so many Serie A defences, and their tireless speed with which they attack has been a huge problem for many opponents. 

Alexis Sanchez will probably join a 'bigger' club next season
Of course, this unit has some very key parts which make it function properly. Armero has run players ragged on the flanks, and has attracted the interest of AC Milan which could make a move for him in the summer. Cristian Zapata has been a rock in Udinese's three-man defence, and could be a bargain for any sides looking for a strong and physical central defender. The mastermind in midfield for Udinese has been Gokhan Inler, his wide range of passing, and long range shooting has helped score and create goals. But maybe the true unsung hero for Udinese has been the goalkeeper, Samir Handanovic. The Slovenian keeper has been a wall, saving at least six penalties in the Serie A, and producing spectacular saves to keep Udinese's Champions League dream alive. 

Now Udinese will have to hold on to their many stars, including maybe even their coach. While Francesco Guidolin would surely love to take Udinese to the Champions League next season, if he is stripped of his best players and is left with little to work with, we could see him move to a different Serie A club next season. While this season has been a fantastic one full of great memories and brilliant playing by Udinese, an even better one is yet to come, where the loveable city of Udine can chase European glory.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ajax Win 30th Dutch Eredivisie: Video

Ajax have claimed the club's 30th Dutch Eredivisie title wonderfully. The Dutch season was right down to the wire, with the final game between Ajax and Twente deciding who would win this season's Eredivisie. While Ajax were a point behind first-placed Twente in the table, a victory against last season's champions would seal the Ajax their 30th title.

Ajax won 3-1 in front of their fans, securing the Dutch Eredivisie title, and ending a seven year streak in which they hadn't been able to win the Eredivisie. Now, thanks to the coach, Frank de Boer, Ajax have ended that streak and can now add another star to their badge. Every star above their badge symbolizes ten titles, and now Ajax have three.

Below are the highlights of the title-deciding match between Ajax and FC Twente. A great compilation of Ajax's goals and celebrations, I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Best Images From Manchester City's FA Cup Victory

Yaya Toure scored the only goal of the final

Manchester City won their first major trophy in 35 years this weekend when they defeated Stoke City 1-0 at Wembley Stadium. It was Yaya Toure who scored the only goal of the match, punishing a poor Stoke side which only created one notable chance. Manchester City on the other hand were more adventurous, creating chances while defending well. I wasn't able to watch much of the match, but seeing as many people liked the compilation of the "Best Images of Real Madrid's Copa del Rey win over Barcelona", I've decided to make another one for Manchester City.

I hope you enjoy these pictures, and I'll get back to writing proper posts soon.

The ball bounced around in Stoke's box after Balotelli and David Silva combined...

then it fell to Yaya, who blasted it with his left foot past Sorensen.

The Stoke keeper had no chance of saving the rocket shot.
The goal came in the 75th minute...

and the Ivorian ran off celebrating...

with speedy substitute Adam Johnson.

The rest of the team eventually caught up and dog-piled the goalscorer...
right in front of the happy Manchester City fans.
At the end of the match, Mario Balotelli was awarded the Man of the Match award.
Carlos Tevez lifted the FA Cup.
And Vincent Kompany celebrated with a giant banana (WTF?!) as the team showered in champagne.

Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry, and picture-snapping Joleon Lescott all smile with the historic cup.

Tevez then puts a piece of the famous trophy on his head as a hat. 

Roberto Mancini says that it was a victory for the fans, and it certainly was.

Joe Hart celebrated alone, not a surprise as he decided to cover himself in ribbons.


Related Posts with Thumbnails