Ronaldo and Mourinho to PSG?

No, no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, Cristiano Ronaldo could be leaving Real Madrid this summer, and sorry Manchester United fans, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be returning to England. His future may well lie with the French capital at Paris Saint Germain, in a possible £87m move.

So, let’s dissect the story. The incredible, magical, genius that is Cristiano Ronaldo is not having a great season with Real Madrid, and whilst 13 goals in 15 games is usually satisfactory for a top level striker, by Ronaldo’s standards, he isn’t in the best form in front of goal – but – his finishing isn’t the only problem. There are suggestions that he has fallen out with Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez, and also possibly with his team-mates, he doesn’t appear to have the backing of the supporters either, and most importantly, he no longer feels like Madrid’s no.1, their iconic talisman. All in all, his time looks to be up in Spain, and with that being the case, most people would generally look towards the rumours that a move to either former club Manchester United, or to France with PSG is on the cards.

In terms of which club is more likely, Ronaldo’s heart is telling him that a reunion in Manchester would be perfect, whereas his undoubtedly intelligent brain is telling him that PSG suit his needs much better. While the Red Devils are a team Cr7 is fond of, everything has changed since his move in 2009. Firstly, United are no longer winning trophies and dominating England like they did before. Secondly, the great Sir Alex Ferguson has moved on, and the man currently occupying the throne – Louis Van Gaal – wouldn’t necessarily work as two egos in one team doesn’t often go down smoothly. Also, a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an ageing talent at 33 years of age, and is no longer seen as the man that can help PSG achieve their goal of winning the Champions League, so with the league title almost guaranteed every year and often the cup, Ronaldo could win trophies, whilst still having the challenge of conquering Europe with three different teams from three different leagues. Laurent Blanc could build his team around him, he could score loads more goals, break records – and he seems keen, too.

Reports suggest that the Portuguese international, after Real’s champions league meeting with PSG themselves, approached Blanc, and told him that he wanted the move to go ahead. Ronaldo was also seen winking at the president of the club, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, which is an action open to interpretation.

So surely it’s a done deal, then? All parties are keen, the deal would work, everything would be fine! Don’t be so sure. PSG also appear to have their eye on struggling Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who also looks as if his time is coming to an end at Stamford Bridge. Also Portuguese, Mourinho didn’t get on well with Ronaldo in their time together at Real Madrid and that factor could harm the move. But, if they were both to move, it would surely be one of football’s most fascinating stories.

Well then, will Mourinho and Ronaldo move to PSG this summer – we’ll have to wait and see.

Mourinho misery! Round up #2

It was the weekend of Premier League football we’d all been waiting for, and despite not being quite the classic that many people had hoped, the situation is beginning to become much clearer, and what place better to start than the game at Upton Park on Saturday.

Mourinho’s Chelsea went into the game knowing that West Ham were no slouch – of course they had already beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City this season, and key players such as Dmitri Payet & co were firing at all cylinders. But the game couldn’t have started any worse for Jose – they went behind after 17 minutes due to a powerful strike by Mauro Zarate.

And it got worse for the blues as holding midfielder Nemanja Matic was sent off for two yellow cards inside nine minutes going into the break. At that point, you what have been forgiven for thinking that the interval would do Chelsea good, but Mourinho didn’t help their cause, after he went to speak to referee John Moss, and was sent to the stands for the remainder of the match as a result.

But it didn’t seem to matter when defender Gary Cahill pounced on an opportunity to level the score after 55 minutes, and it looked like Chelsea could push on and go for the winner until the 79th minute, when substitute Andy Carroll, who has suffered from many injuries in the past, headed home the winner, to complete Mourinho’s misery.

Elsewhere this Saturday, Aston villa lost yet another match, this time at the hands of Swansea,when despite leading through Jordan Ayew , goals from Gylfi Siggurdson and Andre Ayew (Jordan’s brother) turned the game on it’s head, and this result eventually lead to the sacking of manager Tim Sherwood. The away team also prevailed at Carrow Road where Salomon Rondon bagged another three points for West Bromwich Albion, and goals from Troy Deeney and Almen Abdi secured a win for Watford at the hands of Stoke.

Also on Saturday, Premier League top scorer Jamie Vardy continued his hot streak for Leicester by making it ten goals for the season and seven games in a row in which he has scored, therefore resulting in a very good three points for the Foxes against a strong Crystal Palace side. Finishing 1-0, Leicester had finally pulled off a clean sheet for the first time this season, and they can now enjoy their pizza.

In the late kick-off, an impressive Arsenal side saw off Everton after goals from Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny gave them a 2-1 win, which temporarily resulted in them going top of the table, before the exciting Sunday fixtures took place.

We began with the Wear-Tyne derby, as Sam Allardyce incredibly carried  on a run of four Sunderland managers to face Newcastle in their second game in charge. What wasn’t set in stone though, was the fact that the other three managers had all won the derby in their second game in charge, but, after the disappointing defeat to West Brom last week, Big Sam didn’t let us down, with a comprehensive 3-0 win against their bitter rivals, just like when Paulo Di Canio took over. The big moment came in first half stoppage time when Fabricio Collocini fouled Steven Fletcher and therefore conceded a penalty and was sent off by referee Robert Madley. The decision to award a penalty for Collocini’s shoulder barge seemed fair, but Newcastle could argue that it did not warrant a sending off as it appeared that Steven Fletcher looked unlikely to win the ball ahead of goalkeeper Rob Elliot. Nevertheless, Newcastle were down to ten men and Adam Johnson confidently converted the penalty, making that his fourth goal in a Wear-Tyne derby. Later on in the second half, Billy Jones made sure of Yann M’Villa’s shot to extend their lead, before an exquisite pass by of all people, centre-back Younes Kaboul set up Steven Fletcher to seal the win.

Following this game was an even bigger game that everyone had been waiting for, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to the billing as a good defensive display from both teams resulted in the game finishing 0-0, and Manchester City regaining their spot at the top of the table in the derby with Man United. Due to David Silva and Sergio Aguero’s absence, Pellegrini deployed Wilfried Bony as striker and Yaya Toure ahead of Fernando and Fernandinho, with Raheem Sterling on the left and Kevin De Bruyne on the right. One of the possible reasons why this game finished 0-0 (other than the solid defensive performances) was that neither of their inform  players shone, De Bruyne unable to get much success against Marcus Rojo and likewise with Sterling against Antonio Valencia. It seemed as if the pair were crying out to be swapped, as Rojo’s intelligence allowed him to deal with De Bruyne, and Valencia was just as quick as Sterling, but Valencia isn’t as intelligent and therefore would have struggled to deal with the classy Belgian and Rojo lacks as much pace, and also wouldn’t have to been able to deal with Sterling. Pellegrini acted on this and sent De Bruyne out to the left and brought on the fresh legs and pace of Jesus Navas, but while the out of form Spanish winger struggled on the right, Louis Van Gaal countered the threat of De Bruyne by replacing Valencia with Matteo Darmian.

Going forward themselves United lacked creativity, but Anthony Martial had a positive performance on the left, and substitute Jesse Lingard hit the bar late on as the biggest chance of the game went begging.

Finishing off the weekend were Liverpool at home to Southampton, and Bournemouth vs Tottenham. In the game at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp’s men drew once again with the score 1-1, and the point for each team at the end of the game seemed fair. Christian Benteke looked to have given Klopp his first win as Liverpool boss with a superb header from James Milner’s cross, but their lead was cancelled out when Sadio Mane bundled the ball across the line after Gaston Ramirez’s header. Mane was later sent off for two quickfire yellow cards and will miss Southampton’s game against Bournemouth this Sunday as the match finished 1-1.

Finally in the game down on the South coast, despite taking an early lead through Matt Richie after just 49 seconds, goals from Moussa Dembele, Erik Lamela and a much needed hat-trick for Harry Kane eventually saw the game finish 1-5 to the visitors.

So, there you have it- City are still top of the table but Arsenal are following closely behind, things are getting worse for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, and the two sons of Abedi Pele scored against each other at Villa Park as Tim Sherwood became the third managerial casualty of the season!

First blood Manchester City! Round up #1

After two weeks of Premier League football, most fans will be trying to catch their breath after some of the shock results, classy goals and stunning individual performances. Opinions will have been swung, too, especially after Manchester City’s dominant performance against the champions earlier today.

City, who were not many people’s favourites for the title or even a good season at all this year, looked a billion dollars as some brilliant individual performances from well known heroes such as Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Vincent Kompany saw them take Chelsea apart, and in some style too, doing so with a resounding three nil scoreline as well!

Chelsea, who weren’t at it last week at home to Swansea, struggled to get into the game and only enjoyed a few good spells throughout the match. They may have only played three games this season (including the community shield), but having lost two and drawn one there is a sense of uncertainty lingering around Stamford bridge at the moment.

Blues fans are still yet to see much from loanee Radamel Falcao, who, in truth, everyone is wishing well in the Premier League this season after his disappointing spell with Manchester United. He has come on as a substitute in all three matches and failed to make and impact, therefore leading to the question of whether Mourinho should stick with his favoured system or shuffle the pack and try to bring Falcao into the starting line up. Seeing Falcao playing alongside Diego Costa once again and flourishing would be a breath of fresh air to Mourinho and the Chelsea faithful, and that could work well in a 4-1-2-1-2 system which would see Nemanja Matic play on his his own in the hole whilst Cesc Fabregas pushes up and Eden Hazard and Willian continue out wide. Of course, it is always difficult to experiment once the season has begun, but I’m sure many people involved with Chelsea FC would do anything to see Falcao playing lots of matches in a suited role, fit, and scoring goals.

In terms of what else has happened,  unfavoured Leicester have started very strongly with two wins out of two, and have looked very convincing, whereas Southampton, who weren’t expected to do quite as well this season haven’t started well, with two points dropped at Newcastle on the opening day and a poor 0-3 defeat at home to Everton six days later, the future doesn’t look quite so rosy for them. Looking at Arsenal, they will once again be playing catch up in the title race after another slow start, with a 0-2 defeat by West Ham and an unconvincing 2-1 victory against Crystal Palace. The somewhat good news for them though is that title rivals Chelsea have also started poorly.

Finally, it has been an encouraging start for Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United, with two games, two clean sheets and two wins for the Red Devils. So, after an exciting first two weeks of the premier League, it’s first blood to Manchester City. Roll on matchday three!

La Liga: The annual two horse race is bigger than ever

As the Premier League season looks all done and dusted with Chelsea almost certainly going to win the title under Mourinho once again, in La Liga, it is definitely not the case. It may be another ‘two horse race’ as they call it between Barcelona and Real Madrid, but after each team taking turns to take the throne and be the dominant force in Spain, (apart from last year when Atletico won it) this year it is looking closer than ever, and after the recent change of hands after Barcelona’s triumph in El Clasico, the situation currently stands that Barcelona are two points clear of the ‘Galactico’s’, but, fear not Madrid fans, as Barca still have to face Atletico Madrid and local rivals Espanyol, and it may well mean that Barcelona cannot afford to drop any points for the rest of the season, that is, as long as Real don’t drop any either.

Not only are Barcelona and Real Madrid seemingly closer than ever, but their two star players are also both hitting top form this year, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo, despite winning the Ballon D’Or, seemed to dip in form after receiving the award, but that all changed when he scored five goals in Real’s clash with Granada in which Madrid won the game a staggering 9-1. As for Messi, he has also been scoring plenty of hat-tricks himself in 2015, and both players seem to be in the form of their lives, only further increasing the battle between the two arguably best clubs in Europe and the world.

With six games to go, it is set to be a huge climax to the season, and I can only give one piece of advice: don’t put any bets on it!

The Race for Jurgen Klopp

With not long to go in the Premier League now as we pass mid April, the race is hotting up for the charismatic manager of Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp. As it looks certain that the likes of Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal will stay at their clubs for the 2015/16 season, there are strong chances that Manuel Pellegrini could well be sacked and there could be the slightest, slightest chance that Arsene Wenger may finally chose to retire as Arsenal boss, and after strong showings last season from their clubs, safety isn’t wrapped up for Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rogers. Therefore, all four sides will be closely keeping an eye on the German.

Klopp started out his career as a manager in 2001, taking charge of FSV Mainz 05 up until 2008. During his 7 year reign he lead them into the Bundesliga for the first time, and even guided them to qualification for the 2005-2006 UEFA Cup. Unfortunately, the following season  they were relegated from the Bundesliga, and after failing to gain promotion after that Klopp resigned as head coach.

Shortly after in May 2008 he was approached by Borussia Dortmund and signed a two year contract with a club. He got underway in style by defeating rivals Bayern Munich to clinch the Supercup, and after last seasons disappointment under Thomas Doll in which they finished 13th, Klopp improved their position by 7 places, leading them to finish 6th. There was also steady improvement the next season as they finished 5th before successive league titles transformed the club in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. In 2012-2013, Dortmund had begun well known around the world  and their fan base was increasing, and despite only managing to finish second behind Bayern Munich, a fantastic run to the Champions League final including to victories against Real Madrid saw them come agonisingly close to just their second ever European Cup title, (after their win against Juventus in 1997) as they lost 2-1 to Bayern again after Arjen Robben’s late winner. The next season was not quite as thrilling as the finished second in the Bundesliga again and despite winning the second leg 2-0, crashed out in the quarter finals of the Champions League to Real Madrid in a 2-3 aggregate defeat. This season however has been a lot, lot worse, as after 29 games, they sit just 8th and went out to  Juventus in the round of 16 of the Champions League, and after this poor year, on  the 15th April, Klopp announced that he will be leaving Dortmund at the end of this season.

After much speculation it seems as if he may be going to the Premier League and Manchester City are currently the favourites to land the crazy manager, but expect this one to go right down to the wire; and the question is, where will Jurgen Klopp be next season?

Winter Woes

The proposed 2022 Winter World Cup in Qatar is set to destroy the European leagues, especially the English Premier League. When awarding the tournament to Qatar, FIFA, who many people have suggested are full of corruption and bribery, clearly didn’t think about the consequences of 22 men running non-stop for 90 minutes in searing heat, and fans with only a couple of bottles of water trying to walk around the area. The idea they came up with was to stage the tournament in the Winter, when it will not be as hot, but this would cause huge disruption to all European leagues, especially the Premier League with the special ‘Winter Schedule’.

Players will come back to an extremely busy fixture list very tired, and some of the best players in the world could miss key fixtures for their sides. It would be utter mayhem and there would be no time to prepare, meaning that we would not be seeing great quality, and as world cups only come around once every four years, players won’t be able to take full advantage of their life dream.

Also it would change tradition, and as well as this, people have suggested that the final could be played two days before Christmas. Now, for the fans watching at home, that would be great. it would be the perfect Christmas treat. But for the players however, not so great. They would struggle to get back to their families in time and, especially for the losing side, it could ruin their annual festivities.

Overall, FIFA clearly need to sort themselves out, and start thinking about the problems that it would cause for the rest of the footballing world.

Match Report #3 Barcelona 5-0 Levante

On Sunday afternoon Barcelona entertained Levante at the Camp Nou, and thrashed them 5-0, as a certain Lionel Messi bagged his 5th hat-trick of another great season.

It didn’t take long for Barca to open the scoring, when in the 17th minute, Lionel Messi’s in swinging cross found Neymar, who scuffed the finish high into the air, but, as they say, when your luck’s in, your luck’s in, and Neymar’s weird attempt looped over a helpless Diego Marino in the Levante goal.

Then, in the 39th minute, Barca proved that they are most dangerous in the ten minute spell before half time, when Marc Bartra pounced on a mistake before sliding a neat ball through to Lionel Messi who slotted his chance into the far corner with his right foot. This goal came just after Messi was denied what would have been a fabulous goal as he was ruled to have been offside, when later replays suggested that he was in fact well onside.

In the second half Barcelona began to turn up the heat, and some good work from Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez set up Messi for another goal with his right foot, tapping in a volley for Barca’s third.

And it didn’t take long for the sensational Messi to complete his 5th hat-trick of the season, as he calmly slotted home his penalty. This came after Messi had openly said he gets nervous over penalties. The last penalty he took was against Elche in an emphatic 0-6 win, and he did score, however he opted out of taking one against Villarreal, leaving Neymar on penalty duty. Unfortunately, Neymar couldn’t convert against the club he had scored from the spot against last season, which meant Messi had to take his chance against the team that he had missed against earlier in the season, in another 5-0 win, but this time he did score, putting the game beyond doubt and taking the scoreline to 4-0.

Later on, Luis Enrique chose to replace Neymar with what looked like a somewhat frustrated Luis Suarez, who had been put on the bench behind Pedro in the starting line up. Suarez then took his only real opportunity of his 20 minute cameo, and showed everyone why he should have been playing from the start, with an incredible bicycle kick. As Adriano’s great first touch took him to the by-line following a great diagonal pass from Javier Mascherano, he wipped in the cross towards the hungry striker, and just when it looked like it had been pulled back too far behind him, Suarez demonstrated his incredible athletic abilities to score a wonderful goal and complete the match.

 

Match Report #2 West Ham 4-0 West Brom

Another game to demonstrate the magic of the FA Cup, another shock 4-0 win in the world of football. Two goals from an in-form Brown Ideye and further strikes from James Morrison and Saido Berahino took a poor West Ham side apart. Ideye, who came within inches of leaving the Baggies in the final hours of deadline day, has now scored 4 goals in 6 games, and is looking like he could transform West Brom’s season.

The first goal started with a superb cross-field pass by Craig Gardner to pick out Craig Dawson, allowing him to beat Aaron Cresswell and get down the wing to feed Brown Ideye for a simple finish to make it 1-0 to West Brom.

And from there on, things only got worse for the Hammers as Craig Gardner’s excellent effort from 30-yards rattled the crossbar, and just three minutes later, a sublime long-range finish from James Morrison took the Baggies’ lead to 2-0.

Later in the second half on 57 minutes, Brown Ideye pounced after some poor defending by West Ham to head in his second and put the game beyond doubt.

After this, the frustration began to mount, and it finally told as Morgan Amalfitano, (who had only been on the pitch for 10 minutes) saw red as he kicked out at Chris Brunt before slapping him in the face.

Then, with 18 minutes left to play, Saido Berahino completed the rout as he smashed home a neat near post finish past West Ham ‘keeper Adrian.

West Ham will hope to put this game beyond them as they travel to North London to play Spurs on Sunday, whilst West Brom will carry their good form into their match at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland on Saturday.

Biggest Top Four Race in Years

After the recent midweek matches, the top end of the table makes for interesting reading. And I’m not talking about Chelsea and Manchester City. I’m talking about how there is a 5 point gap between 3rd place and 7th. This means that, in theory, in two weeks time, Liverpool, who haven’t been near the top four position-wise all season, could jump from 7th to 3rd. That is how tight things are in the race for the Champions League at the moment. 5 or 6 teams are all vying for a spot in the biggest competition in Europe, and every single team has a chance. No team ever seems to be safe when they have reached the top four this season though, with West Ham being a classic example. Not so long ago this season, the hammers were in the top four and things were looking very cosy, but, within just 2 or 3 defeats, they were down to 8th, 4 points away from 7th place. That shows how if you want to be a top team you’ve got to keep on winning, which is what teams like Arsenal and Manchester United are capable of doing. But that doesn’t mean we should rule out Southampton.

They have shown that when the team is fit and firing at all cylinders, they can beat anyone on their day, but injuries and key players not performing at times this season has lead to them sliding down the table very quickly. But one, credit to them for one getting this far, and two showing that they will only be satisfied with European football, and even 6th place will be a disappointment. But, their midweek draw once again proves that even  the tiniest of slip ups, like missing one good chance (in their midweek game against West Ham) can affect your season massively.

In terms of Manchester United, they are the favourites to come 3rd, and will be tough to beat, so a good run of games could put them in a great position and leave it to the rest of the teams to battle for 4th. But they need to be wary of the other sides, as one or two slip ups could cost them, and Arsenal, Southampton, Tottenham and Liverpool will be ready to pounce.

All 5 teams have their strengths and weaknesses,  and Harry Kane is definitely one of Tottenham Hotspur’s strengths. The 21 year-old is likely to be selected for England the next time the chance comes, and in 2015, has scored as many league goals as Lionel Messi (8), and double as many as Cristiano Ronaldo (4). He has also already in this year won the January player of the month, and won the North London derby with two goals to beat Arsenal.

So, with 13 games left this season, it is still all to play for. But, the question is, who do you think will make the top four?

Match Report #1 Atletico Madrid 4-0 Real Madrid

The headline says it all. Arguably the best team in the world with the Ballon D’or winner and a few world cup winners in their side, Real Madrid, the current European Champions, were incredibly thrashed 4-0 by local rivals Atletico on Saturday. On Cristiano Ronaldo’s return from suspension after his red card against Cordoba, Real were completely dominated by an Atletico side playing as if it was the World Cup final.

Atletico started the stronger, and it was goalkeeper Iker Casillas’s mistake that lead to the opening goal from Tiago. That did the ‘Rojiblancos’ the world of good, and they took that confidence into their stride, as Saul scored an audacious overhead kick to make the score 2-0. After Atletico’s blistering start, Real Madrid began to come into the game by around the half hour mark, but not to register any attemps of note. Down the other end however Atletico Madrid claimed that they should have had a penalty to make it 3-0 before half time as Diego Godin’s volley appeared to strike the arm of Sami Khedira, but the German World Cup winner conned the referee, by dropping down to the ground and pretending it had hit him in the face. In the second half, a rampant side did make it 3-0 after Antoine Greizmann’s goal. This was after two glaring chances were missed by the La Liga Champions to put the game beyond doubt, including a poor header from Tiago, but after all the pressure Real Madrid finally woke up with about ten minutes to go, as Asier Illaramendi’s fearsome strike was tipped over the bar by Moya. But when Cristiano Ronaldo dribbled the ball out of play under little pressure, that summed up Real’s day, and just a minute later, a diving header by Mario Mandzukic sealed an incredible result for Atletico Madrid.

Many people are now wondering how Real will recover from this hammer blow, as star man Ronaldo’s form had already shown signs of dipping, so, this could mean that we could be in for some title race at the end of the season!