CARRICK IS KEY

Michael Carrick will be one of the senior members of the squad when England play at the 2014 World Cup, as they are extremely close to sealing qualification to this major tournament. This World Cup will also be the final tournament for the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, which could make Carrick as the senior most midfielder amongst the ranks. Many expect the former Tottenham midfielder also to call upon his retirement after the end of this tournament, but he thinks otherwise. Even though he has not been one of the talked about players among the Golden generation, Carrick sees himself continuing for the national team after the World Cup.

Prior to the national team return under Roy Hodgson, Carrick made just one international appearance in the previous management of Fabio Capello. This led to many rumours that he would eventually retire in order to concentrate on his Manchester United career. Now back in the England fold, he is expected to utilise his years of experience to guide the team. Despite being one of the most successful English midfielders having lifted the Champions league amongst many other titles, Carrick has featured only 29 times for the England national team.

This is less than the appearances made by some of the young players in the team.

“I haven’t given any thought to the World Cup being my last major international tournament. You never know what’s around the corner. It’s the next big opportunity, a massive opportunity, but in terms of it being my last one, I wouldn’t say so, no. There’s no reason why I’d look to pack up anytime soon. For me personally, I don’t think last season was any different to the two or three years before that. I felt my form was good,” said Carrick ahead of the match with Moldova.

FIFA will increase monitoring

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup less than a year away from kicking off, the governing body of world football has promised greater monitoring of the stadiums in Brazil as they look to push through the construction process to end as early as possible.

According to a statement from FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, FIFA wants all 12 stadiums for next summer’s showpiece event which kicks off in June 2014 as early as possible and will maintain dialogue with the Brazilian authorities to ensure the construction process as early as possible.

Brazil recently hosted the FIFA Confederations Cup in June and there were several delays in the construction process of the stadiums for those events and according to Valcke, FIFA will definitely not tolerate any delays in the construction process for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Valcke admitted that although the FIFA Confederations Cup was a success in terms of its infrastructure, there were still some deficiencies as well as few challenges that still need to be resolved ahead of the world football governing body’s flagship event next summer.

Valcke went on to add that the organizers need to focus on the construction process on the 12 stadia and it is natural that there will be strict monitoring of the six stadia that are still under construction. Valcke mentioned that it would be best if the authorities managed to set up the complimentary infrastructure as early as possible and make sure everything is place much earlier than the situation was during the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Valcke is also scheduled to visit the South American country between the 19th and 22nd August and inspect the work going on at the stadia in Sao Paulo, Manaus and Curitiba and assess the progress that have been made on these stadia since the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Football game review

In recent years more sports betting fans than ever have started trying out online casino, tempted by slots games based around different sports. Unsurprisingly, given the immense popularity of football around much of the world, many of these games are based around this – including Soccer Safari.

This particular video slot, which has five reels and thirty pay lines was originally created to mark the World Cup a few years ago, and has proved a lasting hit with football and slots fans. So just what exactly makes this game so appealing to these fans?

Well to start with, it’s funny. There are lots of soccer slots, but few have the amusement value of this one, with its animated animals rampaging around a jungle football ground, and the high quality video graphics squeeze every ounce of comedy value out of this setup. Amongst the highlights in this respect are the celebratory meerkats, the ‘wizard of dribble’ lion, the overly-physical buffalo and the elephant commentator who looks more than a little like one Gary Lineker. Continue reading “Football game review”

ENGLAND CAN WIN

England manager Roy Hodgson has said that he is extremely confident that England will be able to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup despite not winning many matches under his regime. Since taking over from Fabio Capello just before the Euro 2012, Hodgson has overseen a regime that has been filled with draws against mediocre teams. This has led to the England national team struggling to qualify for the World Cup as the group winners. They are currently second in the group – five points behind leaders Montenegro. This would result in them having to qualify for the World Cup through a play-off against a top team.

However, Hodgson is confident that his players will be able to come back to form at just the right time. It remains to be seen if England will be able to finish as the group winners even if they win all the matches in hand. England could only recently manage a draw against Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, which is seen as a great preparation for the team. After the two friendly matches against Republic of Ireland and Brazil, the World Cup qualifying matches will be starting in September.

Hodgson recently requested the Premier league not to have important matches just before the international break, but it has been not heeded. “One of the areas where we’ve been, to say the least, unfortunate, is in the choice of front players and the availability of front players. I’m looking forward to coming back here again next year. I’m enjoying the job every bit as much [as before]. I’m perfectly happy for anyone who wants to to come up with criticism,” said Hodgson.

The former West Brom, Liverpool, and Fulham manager is held in high regard by the English FA after achieving a lot in the game with several clubs across several countries.

WHERE WILL FALCAO GO?

Colombian striker Radamel Falcao Garcia has become one of the most coveted strikers in recent years with several clubs like Barcelona and Chelsea chasing his signature. The 27-year-old is widely expected to leave Atletico Madrid at the end of the season. However, there have been no indication from the Spanish club towards the same until now. Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, who has played a huge role in the revival of the club, has said that the Colombian is not irreplaceable, and has conceded that he may leave in the summer.

Chelsea are widely thought to be the heavily interested parties in his signature with many suggesting that Falcao may eventually replace Fernando Torres. This statement by the Atletico Madrid manager has intensified rumours that Falcao may be brought to Stamford Bridge in a swap deal involving the Spaniard. The 27-year-old has scored a spectacular 21 goals in just 25 league matches this season. Torres, meanwhile, is yet to hit double figures in the league this season. Simeone has pointed out to the fact that the club has had several great strikers in the past like Torres and Aguero, but they have been able to replace every one of them after they left.

He reckons that it may be the case with Falcao as well. “It is complicated, but it would be fabulous if he stayed. I am not his agent. I am not Falcao. Falcao has given me a lot and is a player with commitment, and I respect him a lot for that. The fans do not have to judge him after all he has given. [Fernando] Torres went and [Sergio] Aguero came, which was a risky bet. [Diego] Forlan went and Falcao came. If he does end up leaving, another competitive player will surely arrive,” said the manager.

Who will get into Europe?

Getting into Europe can be a complicated matter. There are two European competitions: the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. The top four Premier League clubs qualify for the UEFA Champions League. The top three go straight through to the Group Stage and the fourth has to first go into a play-off. If a team wins the Champions League but is not one of the top four in the Premier league, then it still goes through to the Group Stage replacing the fourth team which then drops down to the Europa League. Continue reading “Who will get into Europe?”

RONALDO NETS IN REAL WIN

Real Madrid has defeated Rayo Vallecano in a La Liga match played at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Monday. Madrid won the match by 2-0. This was Madrid’s 15th win in the ongoing La Liga. But, this victory didn’t help Madrid in moving up in the points table. Madrid is still at the third position with 52 points in 25 matches.

This victory was incredible because Madrid played with only 10 players for more than 70 minutes in the match. Sergio Ramos was shown two yellow cards in a space of 2 minutes and was sent out of the ground in the 18th minute.

But, in spite of losing Ramos so early, Madrid didn’t let its opponent dominate. The Blancos played attacking football and never looked like struggling even with 10 men.

Madrid took the lead very early in the match. The first goal was scored by Alvaro Morata. Kaka passed the ball to Ozil who was on the right hand side. The German midfielder back passed the ball to Morata who easily tapped the ball into the net to give Madrid a 1-0 lead.

Madrid’s lead was further enhanced by Sergio Ramos who scored a fine goal in the 12th minute. Mesut Ozil’s shot off a free kick came to Ramos who smashed the ball into the post with a great header.

Rayo Vallecano came close to scoring a goal on a couple of occasions, but, they couldn’t finish them well and eventually paid the price for those lost opportunities.

In the post match press conference, the manager of Real Madrid Jose Mourinho said, “This was really a great effort by the boys especially after losing a player like Ramos so early in the match. The team should be proud of this victory.”

Real Madrid will face Deportivo La Coruna in its next match on Saturday.

Final Line-Up Revealed

After last night’s playoff second-legs, we can finally reveal who has made it to the Euro 2012 Poland-Ukraine European Championships!

Portugal (with Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, et al) WILL be there after demolishing Bosnia 6-2. The Republic of Ireland did all their hard work in the first leg, beating Estonia 4-0, before holding on to a 1-1 draw away from home for a memorable night in Irish football.

Croatia also benefitted from a great first leg over Turkey, with a 0-0 at home enough to secure them a place at the Finals. The Cezch Republic complete the line-up after a 3-0 win over Montenegro.

The Finals Groups will be drawn on December 2nd, and here are the 16 teams in full…

Ukraine
Poland
Spain
Holland
Germany
Italy
England
Croatia
Russia
Greece
Sweden
Portugal
Denmark
France
Czech Republic
Ireland

Who has Qualified for Euro 2012?

With the European Championships almost upon us, its time to take a look at which of Europe’s great and good teams will be playing at Euro 2012…

Hosts

As the hosts, we can guarantee that both Ukraine and Poland will be there!  It should guarantee full stadiums, and real passion from the local fans.

Group Winners

There are 9 group winners who will be at the Finals.

Germany romped home in Group A, with Russia taking the guaranteed spot in Group B – though it was a close fought contest with the Republic of Ireland.  Italy dominated Group C, and qualified with 3 games left to play.  France and the Netherlands qualified from Groups D and E as expected, but there was a shock winner of Group F, with Greece taking the top spot ahead of Croatia and Israel.

Group G was won by England, Group H was nudged by Denmark ahead of Portugal, and Group I was won by the current European Championships Champions Spain.

Best Placed Qualifier

With 8 wins and just 2 losses, Sweden were unlucky to finish in second place in their group.  As the second-placed team with the most points, they were lucky enough to qualify automatically anyway!

Four Places Left

The last four places at the tournament have yet to be decided!  A two legged playoff between the teams below will complete the line-up at Poland-Ukraine 2012!

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Portugal
Turkey vs Croatia
Czech Republic vs Montenegro
Estonia vs Republic of Ireland