Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why Real Madrid should be delighted to beat Manchester United to rising star Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane is a young defender who has certainly got people talking.

Since breaking into the Lens first XI amid an injury crisis during the autumn, his reputation as a prodigious talent has grown exponentially, though he has long been courted by the likes of Manchester United, who continue to maintain an interest in the 18-year-old.

It is, however, Real Madrid who have seemingly claimed victory in the chase for the France Under-21 international, aided by the words of legendary World Cup-winner Zinedine Zidane. The revered midfielder reportedly played a significant role in persuading the youngster that he would have an opportunity to shine under the Bernabeu’s lights as a first-team squad member.

To win the race for his signature was no easy task. Paris Saint-Germain and hometown club Lille both offered guarantees of regular football from the outset, while the lure of the Premier League was also appealing, with Arsenal rumoured to have made a late rally to secure his services.

“What I want is to go to the club that will make me progress the most,” Varane told. “Another season in Ligue 1, yes, it may be beneficial but there is a choice. There are pros and cons, so it will be for me to decide.”

Clearly, Varane is a young man with a mature head on his shoulders, and this is reflected to a great extent in his play. Many critics have commented upon his grasp of the tactical side of the game, as he is rarely drawn into the kind of cheap errors that more established countrymen such as Adil Rami can find themselves making. Indeed, he has often featured as the sweeping defender in a back four, covering intelligently due to his reading of the game.

Though he lacks in experience, the Nord-Pas de Calais native is certainly equipped with all the attributes that will allow him to make it to the top of the game. As well as a sound mind, he is blessed with a frame that belies his years, and his solid build means that he is already able to tussle competitively with the majority of strikers, while he is also fleet of foot, allowing him to recover from any slips that are made by those alongside him.

Coming from a stable of promising young teenagers that also includes fellow centre-back Geoffrey Kondogbia and Thorgan Hazard, Eden’s 18-year-old brother, Varane receives top billing, and given his outstanding contribution for Lens in the second half of last season, it is little wonder.

But there is, of course, a mammoth chasm to be bridged between playing for the Ligue 2 side and the nine-time European champions. 

Lens president Gervais Martel offered his support to the teenager on Wednesday when he revealed the club were in talks with the Spanish giants, signalling a belief that Varane, who has also been employed as a holding midfielder, can be a genuine factor in Spain next season. “Some believe that Raphael will not play [first team football] there,” he told the club's official website. “I can tell you he will not go to Real Madrid to repaint the changing rooms!”

Varane will certainly have a fight on his hands to play with any regularity in the Spanish capital, and there has even been talk that his performance over pre-season will be closely monitored by coach Jose Mourinho, who may then opt to send the player back to France on loan for a year.

With the much-coveted Sergio Canales left to rot on the bench for much of last term, the Frenchman will certainly want to avoid a similar fate as his talent deserves a stage on which to impress – and those don’t come any bigger than Real Madrid.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Introducing ‘Little Xavi’: Marvin Martin is France’s new playmaking hope

Following the relative disappointment of Friday night’s stale encounter against BelarusFrance head coach Laurent Blanc will be tempted to make changes to his XI for a friendly encounter against Ukraine on Monday night.

The second leg of France’s eastern European tour rolls into Kiev before Thursday’s match in Poland, and the coach will no doubt be eager for his side to play in a more confident manner than was achieved in Minsk.

While they never looked like losing against Belarus after drawing level through Florent Malouda, a lack of precision from the midfield meant that they were deficient offensively, and the forthcoming games provide a chance for some of the nation’s fringe players to showcase themselves.

One man who has been grabbing headlines at home but has yet to make a name for himself outside of France’s borders is Marvin Martin, and the 23-year-old is liable to make his debut, albeit off the bench, on Monday night.

Uncapped, the Sochaux player only made his real breakthrough in Ligue 1 this season and finds himself in the national team for the first time. There can be little doubt that his performances over the last year have merited his place in the spotlight.

Featuring for a side expected to struggle in Le Championnat, he was instead one of the major catalysts as they charged towards a top five finish, earning European football in the process. Along the way, he set a new record for assists in Ligue 1, notching 17 in total, far surpassing the previous best mark, which was set by Lucho Gonzalez of Marseille 12 months earlier, managing a mere 11.

Sochaux specialised on the counterattack, and Martin’s abilities in broken play were commendable, though it will be his command of a dead-ball that will arguably interest Blanc more. The France coach loves his side to be proficient from set-pieces, and in this regard the Paris-born playmaker shines.

Dubbed ‘Little Xavi’ by his club-mates, Martin actually stands the same 5ft 7in as his Spanish counterpart and possesses a similar style.

Such was the impression he made over the campaign as a whole, the No.14 would find himself on the shortlist for Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year. He was in illustrious company, with Ghanaian World Cup star Andre Ayew and France internationals Yann M’Vila and Mamadou Sakho the other players on the four-man list.

Further recognition has come from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, who have started to take a closer look at the man whose shirt number matches the Parisian arrondissement in which he grew up, playing notably with Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa as a youngster. In France, Marseille and Lyon have both reportedly added the player to their list of summer targets, while Lille are similarly interested. Meanwhile, German champions Borussia Dortmund have cast their eye over a player slowly starting to cause ripples in the European footballing world.

With the summer window not due to open in France until later in the week, Martin should take this chance to lay down a marker in the international game, particularly as big question marks still remain over the form of Yoann Gourcuff. He has risen to every challenge presented to him thus far, but breaking into the national team on a regular basis is undoubtedly his biggest test to date, though it could also be the making of him.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Top 10 Japanese players in Europe 2010-11

Besides having the Samurai Blue national team performing well at the World Cup and winning the Asian Cup in Qatar, Japanese football fans experienced an exciting 2010-11 season thanks to their contingent in Europe.

Among the one Japanese player winning the Bundesliga, the three claiming national cups and a bunch more helping their clubs to avoid relegation, here are  picks for the Top 10 Japanese players in Europe for the 2010-11 campaign. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The top 15 European clubs to score the most goals in 2010⁄11

The new European Champions, Barcelona, have been making headlines around the globe since their fresh European and domestic championships, acquiring fame not only for being the best team in the world, but also for executing the best strategic system in the world- winning titles with an offensive game.

In the report below we calculated the number of goals scored per match for all the European leagues that have come to an end, to see which teams are really the most offensive.

To our surprise we found Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid at first place, scoring 7 more goals than Barcelona in the regular season, a team led by a manager who's defensive reputation goes before him, while Real is the only team in the world this season to score more than a 100 goals in the regular league.

Tied in second place are Barcelona and Partizan Belgrade , who both scored 2.5 goals per match this year.

Spain is not the only country to have two teams in this list of top 15 teams, the Czech Republic and Scotland also have two representatives in the list, with the Rangers and Celtic close championship race producing many goals for each side.

Missing from the list are representatives from the Premier League, Ligue 1 and the Serie A. Out of all the teams in these highly important three leagues, only Manchester United have scored more than 2 goals per match.

Out of the 15 teams listed only 8 teams are their league's champions this season, meaning that scoring many goals does not necessarily secure a championship and that there must always be a balance between offense and defense. For example Bayern Munchen- scored 81 goals (the most in Germany), but also conceded 40 goals and ended the season in the third place.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The top 10 assists leaders in Europe for 2010⁄11

As the 2010/11 season has come to an end in most of the European leagues, we take a look at the players who provided the most assists for their teammates- players who are usually considered the most creative players on the field, those players who are sometimes the engine behind a team's success.

The player who provided the most assists this season is Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil , providing 24 assists in all competitions, also scoring 7 goals- an excellent debut season for the German youngster.

In second place we find Barcelona maestro Lionel Messi with 22 assists, who had another incredible season for the Catalonian side, also scoring an amazing 50 goals in all competitions. Barcelona is the only team to hold two players on the list, with Dani Alves adding 18 assists to his tally.

Other interesting names that have had an important role in their teams success this year, are Christian Tiffert who provided 20 assists for Kaiserslautern, who managed to capture the seventh spot in the Bundesliga. And of course the incredible Hulk , who holds a total tally of 21 assists and 31 goals for FC Porto, who completed a historic treble.

Dusan Tadic, who has captured the eye of scouts for some time now, is most surprisingly the fourth top assist provider in Europe, with 21 assists in his debut season at Groningen, showcasing supreme playmaking abilities.

Another surprise on this list is target striker Didier Drogba , who provided the most assists in all competitions from the Premier League, providing more assists than goals this year. Followed by Adel Taarabt who had a key role in QPR's promotion to the Premiership, scoring 19 goals and providing 16 assists.

The lone representative from France, 23-year-old Marvin Martin , is actually the player with the most assists in the regular league with 19 assists in Ligue 1, helping Sochaux secure the fifth place in the league, their best position in recent years.



Related Posts with Thumbnails