Thursday, December 30, 2010

Alvaro Morata - Real Madrid wonderkid earning comparisons to legendary striker Fernando Morientes

The young forward is gradually getting involved at Los Blancos as Jose Mourinho sees massive potential in the player.

Alvaro Borja Morata Martin started his way in football at the age of 13 playing at the Atletico Madrid youth academy. Two years later, he moved to Getafe, where he spent a couple of seasons before his enormous potential was discovered by Real Madrid 's scouts in 2008.

His first year for the Juvenil C, one of the Bernabeu outfit's youth sides, was an immense success as Morata helped the team win two youth titles by contributing 34 goals. This earned him a promotion to Real Madrid Castilla in July 2010.

Morata's debut for the Castilla side came in a friendly match against AD Alcorcon on August 15, and the striker scored the only goal of the match as his side recorded a 1-0 victory. Since then, Morata has been a key part of Castilla's league campaign, and notched his first league goal for the side in a match against RSD Alcala in October.

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho became increasingly aware of the teenager's potential and invited him to a pre-season tour with the senior side in the United States in the summer, a move indicative of the more important role Mourinho was considering for Morata.

On December 12, the 1.87m-tall forward went on to make his senior Real Madrid debut, coming on to replace Angel Di Maria in the 88th minute of a 3-1 league win over Real Zaragoza.

He was only given a few minutes to play and seemed a bit nervous, but showed some class with several touches on the ball and even came close to a one-on-one chance with the opposition 'keeper.

Shortly after his first taste of top-flight football, he also made a brief Copa del Rey debut as Real Madrid thrashed Levante 8-0, coming on for the last 13 minutes.

Alvaro Morata is a fantastic prospect for Real Madrid and the Spanish national team. Despite the abundance of promising young Spanish talent coming through the ranks, Morata offers several qualities that few of his compatriots do.

He is a towering presence in the box and boasts superb aerial ability, as well as excellent finishing, off-the-ball movement and anticipation. He is also remarkably quick and agile.

This has been highlighted by his stand-out performances for the young Spain teams. He has scored a highly impressive nine goals in 13 appearances for the Spain U-17, U-18 and U-19 sides, including two goals in four matches at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

The target striker's playing style has been compared to that of former Real Madrid star Fernando Morientes, mostly due to the youngster's aerial prowess, but also thanks to his exceptional composure in front of goal.

Watch Alvaro Morata 's debut appearance in a Real Madrid shirt against Zaragoza:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Have a rare glimpse of Cristiano Ronaldo baby boy!

It's not exactly the most conventional reaction after scoring a goal.

But footballer Cristiano Ronaldo went a little gaga on the pitch after hitting the back of the net - by sucking his thumb as his young son watched on.

The Real Madrid star saluted his pride and joy with the gesture during his team's match against AJ Auxerre.

Six-month-old Cristiano Ronaldo Junior was being held by Jose Andrade, the boyfriend of Ronaldo's mother Dolores Aveiro.

And it appeared the Portuguese sportsman's good luck charm paid off, as his team went on to defeat AJ Auxerre 4-0 during the Champions League game.

Ronaldo, who dates Russian model Irina Shayk, announced that he had become a father on Facebook and Twitter this summer.

He shocked fans when he revealed he had become a father to Cristiano Ronaldo Jnr on June 17 to an un-named American mother.

He said he was in 'full custody' of the baby, which is being cared for by his mother Dolores, 55, and sisters Katia, 33, and Elma, 35.

Roberto Mancini: Sometimes I want to punch Balotelli!

After victory over Aston Villa, Man City boss Roberto Mancini admits he'd like to thump hat-trick hero Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli's first City treble, including two cheeky penalties, took his tally to eight goals in eight games but his response to the general euphoria was typically muted.
Mancini smiled: "I would like to punch him sometimes! When you score three goals in the Barclays Premier League I think you should celebrate. After the first goal he did celebrate - for one second, I think! At least he smiled!
"Our supporters love Mario - they love all the players. Mario must understand this, because it is important for a player. Every day I fight against him! But he is young. He was with me at 17 years old, so I know him very well."

4 South Koreans who are ready to make their mark in European football

South Korea had a decent World Cup playing a refreshing brand of fast, attacking football, and were somewhat unlucky to go out in the knockout stages to Uruguay.

South Korean football has come on in leaps and bounds since - with the help of Guus Hiddink and the 2002 World Cup - mass euphoria in the country over its national team began in earnest, and several of the country's stars have impressed in Europe.

Park Ji-Sung has performed admirably for Manchester United after bursting onto the scene during PSV Eindhoven's successful 2005 Champions League campaign with Lee Young-Pyo, who later joined Tottenham. And Germany-born Cha Doo-ri is now playing his trade at Celtic after hopping around the Bundesliga.

And things look to be getting even better for the Asian country.

Here are some South Korea stars of the future, some of whom we caught a glimpse of in South Africa in the summer.

Gary Megson may have been fired by Bolton, but Wanderers will thank him for snapping up this starlet for €2.5 million from FC Seoul in 2009.

Lee Chung-Yong scored four times and chipped in with five assists last season, and has so far scored two goals and set up three this campaign.

He had a pretty good summer, too, scoring against Argentina in the World Cup group stage, and again in the knockout phase against Uruguay.

The 22-year-old is a tricky clever right winger, with excellent technical ability and, as most South Korean players are, he is super fit.

He is one of the top youngsters to emerge from South Korean football and was named by Sports Illustrated in the top 10 rising stars of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Cho is an extremely bright prospect who has just won his first two caps for the national team in the recent friendly internationals against Nigeria and Iran.

He was tipped to be a top Korean goal-scorer very early on in his career, and hit an astonishing 10 goals against Guam Under 18s at an AFC Youth Championship 2008 qualifier in 2007. He went on to play for the Olympic team in 2008 and in the FIFA U-20 World Cup the following year.

Cheol Cho progressed to the Japanese top flight last year after making over 30 appearances in J2 for Yokohama.

Although with just five games for Ajax under his belt since joining the Amsterdam outfit last January after impressing in a trial, the first Asian player in the club's history is a huge prospect.

Suk has great technique, pace and fantastic work rate.

His mentality and motivation and have already won over the Ajax faithful.

The 19-year-old made his Ajax debut in the 4–0 home win against Roda JC last season, and scored his first goal for the club in a friendly match against Chelsea in July.

And after playing for the South Korea Under 19 and Under 20 sides, Suk made his senior national team debut in September against Iran.

At 27 years of age and with 37 international caps under his belt, Yong-Hyung is fully developed and ready to make the step out of Qatar and into a top European league.

He is a fast and smart defender with excellent positional sense and anticipation. He is comfortable on the ball, which along with his good vision, makes him adept at starting attacks from the back.

Aston Villa, Newcastle and Fulham have all expressed interest in his services.

Adriano voted worst player in Italy AGAIN..his third award

AS Roma striker Adriano won Italy's infamous Golden Bin award for a third time on Monday after again being voted Serie A's worst player by fans.

The burly Brazilian, given the Rai Radio 2 prize by listeners in 2006 and 2007 while playing for Inter Milan, returned to Italy with Roma at the start of the season after a stint at Brazil's Flamengo but has made only three appearances.

Injury and coach Claudio Ranieri's preference for Francesco Totti, Marco Borriello and Mirko Vucinic mean opportunities have been limited for the 28-year-old, with media reports already linking him with a January move away.

Adriano has battled alcohol and personal problems in the past but excitedly joined cash-strapped Roma in June only for the up-for-sale club to loan Borriello from AC Milan two months later.

Rai said in a statement that Adriano received almost double the votes of inconsistent Juventus and Italy forward Amauri in second while Milan's Brazilian Ronaldinho was third having mainly warmed the bench of late.

Last year Juve's Brazil midfielder Felipe Melo won the Golden Bin, a parody on the Golden Ball (Ballon D'Or) award.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Five Mexicans wonderkid who could make a big impact over the coming years.

There is a feeling that Mexican football has never really fulfilled its potential.  With a football-mad population of 111 million people, it is surprising that the 1999 Confederations Cup victory has been the greatest achievement for the national team to date.

Although Mexico have qualified for fourteen World Cup finals and would have played in every tournament since 1986 had it not been for a ban in 1994, two quarter-final appearances as hosts in both 1970 and in 1986 is the furthest that they have progressed.

However, the current squad, under the guidance of Jose Manuel de la Torre shows signs that it could develop to take Mexican football to a level never before achieved.  Today's stars include Javier Hernandez who has made an instant impact at Manchester United and Arsenal youngster Carlos Vela .

However, there are plenty more where that came from.  We take a look at seven Mexicans who could make a big impact over the coming years.

Hernandez, nicknamed Chicarito, has been an instant hit at Old Trafford since his summer move from Chivas Guadalajara . He is without a doubt a natural striker.  Although he lacks the physical prowess and strength that is often associated with the Premier League, Hernandez more than makes up for it with pace, movement, anticipation and excellent eye for goal, somewhat reminiscent of Old Trafford team-mate Michael Owen.

Chicarito has already announced his arrival on the international stage.  A ratio of a goal every two games for Mexico included World Cup strikes against France and a memorable goal against Argentina.  He is set to spearhead Mexican hopes for many years to come.

It is easy to forget that Carlos Vela is only 21-years-old.  Signed by Arsenal aged 16, he has yet to secure a first-team slot with the Gunners, but time and indeed talent is certainly on Vela's side.  Pacy and alert, Vela is at his best breaking through on goal.  He is another diminutive striker with excellent control and good movement.

Vela has again been limited to brief appearances for Arsenal this season, although he has scored twice against Shakhtar Donetsk and once against Bolton.  Yet, he is already a very experienced international, with 33 Mexico caps to his name.  There is every chance that he will add very many more

Dos Santos is another player yet to really prove himself in North London.  He hasn't really had a look-in at Tottenham since his £4.6million move from Barcelona two years ago, although he wasn't helped by an ankle injury. Dos Santos was loaned out to Ipswich Town in the second half of the 2008/2009 season, and then to Galatasaray last campaign. 

Despite his failure to make an impact at Spurs, the 21-year-old was one of Mexico's best players at the World Cup and perhaps one of the most impressive attacking midfielders in the entire tournament.  Dos Santos boasts excellent technique, explosive acceleration and an ability to dribble past and beat players. 

 He can be an enormous threat to any defence and has the potential to provide the ammunition for Hernandez and Vela in a potentially lethal Mexico attack. 

Guardado moved to Deportivo three years ago, becoming the most expensive Mexican player in history.   He has since then been a regular in Spain's Primera Division ever since, proving to be a critical player for Miguel Angel Lotina's side.  His main attributes are pace and agility.  Guardado has excellent energy and is able to cover a lot of ground up and down the left wing.

Very capable of beating players, he likes to get into shooting range from where he is characteristically a dangerous threat on goal.  He is also regarded as something of a dead-ball specialist.  Such is Guardado's ability, that he was linked with an expensive move to Manchester United over the summer, following an impressive showing at the World Cup.

Like Hernandez and Vela, Fabian is a product of Chivas Guadalajara .  Although he is yet to make his international debut, there is every reason to expect that Fabian will join his two Chivas predecessors in the Mexico national side.

He boasts tremendous speed and great technique in addition to impressive ball control. He is a very agile player with characteristic nimble footwork who is capable of dribbling past opponents with ease. As such, he is an entertaining player to watch and usually deployed wide on the left, he relishes taking on defenders, who find it difficult to keep up with his footwork.

Fabian helped Chivas reach the 2010 Copa Libertadores final and is currently enjoying an excellent season.  It may not be long until he provides serious competition to Andres Guardado for the left wing spot in the national team.

Gerard Deulofeu: The next Barcelona superkid

Barcelona believe they've uncovered another superkid in Gerard Deulofeu.
The 16 year-old has made rapid progress through Barca's youth system and is already training with coach Pep Guardiola's senior squad.
A winger, Deulofeu is known for his ability to beat defenders and is a box of tricks and flicks.
"Deulofeu is different from the rest, that's what defines him," said Francisco Sanchez, a Barca youth coach.
"He was very individualistic, but is learning to be more of a team player.
"He is lethal in one on one's and unpredictable."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ronaldo didn't mix with the rest inside Real Madrid locker room

Cristiano Ronaldo is becoming increasingly isolated inside the Real Madrid locker room.
Sport says Ronaldo's brash personality has not gone down well with senior teammates.
Ronaldo only mixes with fellow Portuguese Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho, along with Brazilian Marcelo. But he does not see eye-to-eye with Real's Spanish heayweights, Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Arbeloa.
It's claimed the senior leadership group believe Ronaldo is not a team player and only out to rescue his own image, which took a battering at Barcelona last week.
Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, meanwhile, could pour further fuel on the fire with claims he wants to replace Casillas with Ronaldo as club captain.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crouchie....The Duck moves in with The Beckhams

The Beckhams have welcomed a new addition to their family - a duck called Crouchie.
The bird, named after lanky Spurs star Peter Crouch because he has a long neck and thin legs, now rules the roost at Beckingham Palace.
Pals say England midfielder David, 35, brought the duck home for kids Brooklyn, 11, Romeo, eight, and Cruz, five.
He has joined the petting zoo at David and wife Victoria's huge pad in Sawbridgeworth, Herts, and is even allowed to roam around the house.

Among the Beckhams' other pets is British Bulldog Coco, which lives at the family's other home in Los Angeles. It was the children's idea to name the bird after 6ft 7in striker Crouchie.
A source said: "The duck has a really long neck, like Peter Crouch, and very skinny legs in proportion to his body.
"As soon as it waddled into their home they knew it was 'Crouchie'."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Flexible Alex Gerrard is put through her paces during park workout

Squats, lunges, lifts, press-ups and a run to top it all off.

There was certainly no let-up for Alex Gerrard as she hit the park for a rigorous workout with her personal trainer this week.

The WAG was spotted working up a sweat in the sub zero temperatures in a local Liverpool park on Wednesday.

Alex, wife of England footballer Steven Gerrard, was decked out in her winter gear for the session - black leggings, a sweaters and grey beanie.

And she was using winter as her motivation to keep fit by trying out the new ski-inspired workout using a ViPR tube.

The ViPR, which stands for Vitality, Performance and Reconditioning, is a rubber tube that comes in seven weights, from 4 to 20kg.
It can be carried, dragged, thrown, rolled, stepped on and flipped, which is said to work the muscle groups used while skiing.

The mother-of-two was accompanied by her personal trainer Dina Mogan, who was decked in similar attire and certainly appeared to be cracking the whip.

At one point in the workout, the blonde trainer watched on as Alex, 28, did a series of lunges while lifting the rubber tube

She followed this up with few sets of press-ups, working on her upper body strength and core muscles.

To finish Alex got her heartbeat racing by doing some cardio work with sprint around the park.

The former nail technician is a self-confessed lover of sweet treats.

But over the past year she has been working hard to keep in shape, by eating healthier food and following a dedicated fitness regime.

She admitted to being ashamed when she saw photographs of herself on holiday last year looking out of shape.

'When I returned from celebrating my first wedding anniversary with Steven, I saw pictures of me in a red bikini. I was horrified to see rolls of fat,' she said at the time.
'I had been eating rubbish food for years and my tummy had never fully recovered after having two children.'

Monday, November 29, 2010

Match Analysis and Highlight: Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid, Humiliation for Real

Barcelona produced a truly legendary performance to go top of the table.

Pep Guardiola deviated little from his favoured XI so far this season – the closest thing to a surprise was at left-back, where Eric Abidal played ahead of Maxwell. Lionel Messi started in the centre, with David Villa on the left.

Jose Mourinho did not change his 4-2-3-1, playing Mesut Ozil despite reports the German would be sacrificed for another ball-winner in midfield. Gonzalo Higuain was not fit enough to start, so Karim Benzema played alone upfront.

First things first – this wasn’t an inherently ‘tactical’ victory. Barcelona won primarily because of the cohesion and quality of the interplay in midfield. Their passing patterns in the centre of the pitch are the result of years of experience playing together, something Real couldn’t hope to match.

Nevertheless, there were various interesting tactical points from the game that may not have decided the outcome, but certainly contributed to Barcelona’s rout.

Real wingers

Mourinho started the game with his wingers on the opposite flanks to usual – Ronaldo out on the right and Angel di Maria on the left, presumably to work around the problem of Real defending  against Dani Alves, as Di Maria is the better defensive player. 

Whilst Mourinho is generally a reactionary manager anyway, in a sense Guardiola had won the first battle of the match without a ball being kicked, since Mourinho felt the need to play his most dangerous player somewhere other than the position where he had been turning in incredible performances so far this campaign.

Ronaldo is not alien to the right wing, of course – it is the position where he established himself at Manchester United. However, Mourinho is clearly a fan of stability – he’s changed his starting XI as little as possible so far this season, and considering how well Ozil (who plays left-of-centre) links up with Ronaldo, breaking up that combination was a surprise, and was (a small) part of the reason why Ozil wasn’t very effective in this game. There’s also an argument that Ronaldo playing high up the pitch on the right indirectly opened up space on the flank for Iniesta, who often moved to Barca’s left.

Barcelona centre-backs

The second point of note here is how often Barcelona’s centre-backs switched. Generally, Gerard Pique plays on the right of the pairing and Carles Puyol plays on the left. However, the two frequently swapped sides during the game, seemingly according to which side of the pitch Ronaldo was on. 

Puyol always appeared to be on the side closest to Ronaldo, ready to double up against him – as if Guardiola didn’t completely trust Pique, who has a tendency to dive into tackles.

Eventually Ronaldo moved back over the left-hand side, but this was after Barcelona had already gone 1-0 up.

Barcelona also occasionally used a tactic they had showcased most obviously against Sevilla, where Daniel Alves moved high up the pitch and overloaded that side, whilst left-back Eric Abidal remained more conservative and formed a back three with Pique moving out to the right. This kept 3 v 2 against Benzema and Ronaldo.

Barca lead

The first goal was slightly unfortunate from Real’s point of view, but the concession of an early goal was a disaster for Mourinho’s gameplan, which involved Real’s defensive line sitting relatively deep on the edge of the penalty box. Even then, they were vulnerable to balls being threaded through the defence for midfield runners, because they were getting outplayed in the centre of midfield and one of Barcelona’s midfielders generally had time on the ball to slide it through.

The goal – or, you could argue, the second goal, which arrived on 18 minutes – meant Real could no longer afford to simply defend. They had to come out and play (or at least try to) which meant they were always going to be more susceptible to the pace of Barcelona’s attackers as the space behind the defence increased.

Midfield battle

Ozil’s defensive task was to pick up Xavi, but Xavi simply moved higher up the pitch where Ozil wasn’t comfortable tracking him – that movement was part of the reason why Xavi found himself in an uncharacteristic centre-forward position for the first goal. Xavi was able to leave the centre midfield area to Busquets, who kept things simple and distributed the ball forward excellently.

His World Cup-winning midfield partner Xabi Alonso looked much less assured, and Messi’s drifts towards him presented Alonso with a dilemma about whether to drop goalside and give Barca free run in midfield, or to let him go free and force one of the centre-backs out. It was generally the latter and Ricardo Carvalho put in possibly the worst performance of his career, stepping out of the defence and further exposing Real’s defence.

The pattern was so simple – ball forward to Messi in a deep position, he would then jink past the first challenge and knock the ball through the defence for Villa – or leave that part of the job to Xavi or Iniesta. Villa was constantly flagged offside in the first half, but eventually timed his runs much better and scored two goals in the second half. Real’s offside trap was astonishingly bad to start with and got worse as the game went on, though an equal portion of blame should be attached to the midfield for the lack of pressure upon the Barcelona player playing the pass.

Mourinho error

Sometimes you simply cannot stop Messi. How could Real have done it? Well, they could have used another holding player, and the introduction of Lassana Diarra for Ozil at half-time was nothing more or less than the obvious – an admission Mourinho got his starting line-up wrong. Against truly top-class opposition, especially a team playing a player ‘in the hole’ (as Messi often was, despite nominally playing as a forward), Alonso as the deepest midfield doesn’t work – he is neither particularly mobile nor a good tackler, and needs an enforcer alongside him. The Champions League final of 2005 showed that particularly well.

Diarra’s introduction did little to hold back the tide, of course, as Real moved to a 4-3-3 system. (Even that seemed slightly strange – the three forwards played very high up the pitch, maybe with the intention to use their pace in behind Barcelona’s high backline, but Real found it impossible to get the ball to them.

 Ronaldo was a threat in the first half, and invisible in the second.) But this was when Real were forced to play higher up the pitch, and after Barca had got themselves into a commanding position. Playing Diarra as a scrapper may have had more of an effect from the start of the game when Real could defend deeper.

Finally, Barca pressed very well. In the first half it was, by their standards,  subdued on the pressing front – they seemed reasonably happy for Real’s centre-backs to have time on the ball, and instead worked on making it difficult for them to play the ball forward into the midfield. The literal point on the pitch from where Barca started to press may not have changed as the game went on, but as Real’s defence played higher, this naturally meant their centre-backs were suddenly getting shut down as soon as they got the ball – another (convoluted) reason why playing with a deep defence against Barcelona is preferable.


It’s doubtful any set of tactics would have resulted in Barcelona not winning this game, but Mourinho clearly made a mistake in his team selection. On the other hand, Barcelona adapted their shape slightly to suit the game (Abidal playing was the right call, the way the centre-backs swapped positions made them more defensively secure against Ronaldo) but didn’t compromise their attacking ability.

Still, if Mourinho does one thing well, it is learning lessons from defeats. He has never been on the end of a defeat like this, but one year and five days ago, his Inter side were completely outplayed by Barcelona at the Nou Camp, losing 2-0 and getting passed off the pitch in a manner similar to tonight. By the time the two sides contested the semi-final in late April, however, Mourinho had worked out how to beat Barcelona, and Inter won the tie.



Related Posts with Thumbnails