Friday, August 17, 2012

A fresh Season - soccer analysis for 2012-2013

A new season is here and teams are raring to go!

After an action packed summer, Euro 2012 and big transfer coups, lets look at what we can expect from the top* teams across Europe.

Premier:League:

Manchester United
Major Action - The RVP coup and the capture of Shinji Kagawa
Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney in a training session
Image courtesy: manutd.com
What to expect - RVP and Wazza at their peak are sure to be most lethal strike force in the world. Europe awaits an explosion this season!!!

Chelsea -
Major Action - Capture of Hazard, Marin and Oscar
Eden Hazard unveiled by Chelsea
Image courtesy: chelseafc.com
What to expect - A busy summer for the Blues promises a bright future for the team, albeit if Di Matteo can find the right mix of first team regulars.

Arsenal -
Major Action - Loss of RVP and the signing of Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla. Song may go too!

Arsenal trio-signings (clockwise from top) - Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla
Image courtesy:  Arsenal.com
What to expect - the loss of RVP will leave a big hole and only time will tell if the new recruits can make good for it! Not much can be expected though and Tottenham and Liverpool will look to take this chance to break into the top four.

Manchester City -
Major Action - None
Carlos Tevez
Carlos Tevez
Image courtesy: mcfc.com
What to expect - City have had a quite summer after only signing Rodwell so far. Oh yes, Tevez is as good as a new signing too!


La Liga:

Real Madrid -
Major Action - Expected to sign Modric
Luka Modric
Image courtesy: Tottenhamhotspur.com
What to expect - The Spanish players in Real will hope to emulate their form for the national team. Murinho has a fantastic squad in place already and the signing of Modric will only make the team stronger. Serious contenders for the Champions League crown.

Barcelona -
Major Action - Departure of Pep Guardiola and capture of Jordi Alba. Song expected to sign too.
Jordi Alba
Image courtesy: fcbarcelona.com
What to expect - The departure of the talismanic coach may be a little too much for the team. Also the ageing (and replacement) of veterans Puyol and Xavi is another concern. The defense needs to be strengthened further. real may again be a big thorn.

Valencia -
Major Action - Loss of Jordi Alba and signing of Fernando Gago
Gago
Image courtesy:  Fernandogago.org
What to expect - The explosive full back was a crucial part of the team and will be difficult to replace. Otherwise a decent team. Should make it to the top four again.

Malga -
Major Action - Loss of Cazorla
What to expect - The financial problems of the team has created problems. Not much can be expected.


Bundesliga:

Borussia Dortmund -
Major Action - Loss of Shinji Kagawa and capture of Marco Reus
Marco Reus
Maro Reus
Image courtesy:  bvb.de
What to expect - The team are a force in Germany but yet need to find their feet in Europe. Reus is a promising signing and should help Dortmund in their week area - Goal scoring in Europe. Should give Bayern a run for their money again.

Bayern Munich -
Major Action - Signing of Mandzukic. Expected signing of Martinez.
Javi Martinez
Image courtesy:  wikimedia.org
What to expect - Bayern need to find their feet again after enduring a trophyless season. With a very potent attack, Martinez should be a very good addition for the leaky Bayer defense, which was one of the primary causes of the trophyless season.

Borussia Mönchengladbach -
Major Action - Loss of Reus and signing of Luuk de Jong.
Javi Martinez
Image courtesy:  Mönchengladbach.com
What to expect - Consistency and perseverance help Gladbach last season. The loss of Reus though should be a bad blow.

Schalke 04 -
Major Action - Loss of Raul
What to expect - With the like of Huntelaar and youngsters like Holtby, Schalke have a decent team and should stand a respectable chance to secure a top four finish again.


Seria A:

Juventus -
Major Action - Capture of Lucio and Pogba
Paul Pogba
Image courtesy: Juventus.com
What to expect - Juventus were a force in Italy last season. With the weakening of AC Milan, they will hope to defend the League title. A sccessful Euro 2012 campaign will only boost the morale their of key players like Pirlo and Marchisio.

AC Milan -
Major Action - Loss of Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic
What to expect - The loss of the duo leaves not a hole but a crater in the team. Looks like the team will endure a difficult season.

Udinese -
Major Action - None
What to expect - Many hoped in Italy for Lazio to qualify for the Champions league due to their stupendous performances in Europe. Udinese should face similar heat Lazio this season too.


League 1:

PSG -
Major Action - Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura and Marco Verrati
Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic
Image courtesy: PSG
What to expect - Les Parisians have spent Big in the summer. Genuine contenders for the League title. Should expect to go some distance in the Champions League too.

Montpellier -
Major Action - Loss of star striker Giroud to Arsenal
What to expect - The League 1 Champions will look to emulate their impressive form of last season, but with the financial might of PSG, it would be difficult to defend the crown.

Lille -
Major Action - Loss of Eden Hazard and return of Joe Cole to Liverpool. Signed Kalou.
What to expect - Their wizard, French Player of the year and creator in chief has departed and that leaves a hole in the Lille that would be difficult to fill in. Lille still remain a club to be beaten and should finish in the top three.


Seems like there is lots of action in store, especially on the European stage in the Champions League.

Enjoy the new season!!!



*Top clubs here refers to only Champions League qualifying clubs, for simplicity sake.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Euro 2012 Final - Spain vs Italy- Olympic Stadium, Kyiv

Showdown Time!!!


La Furia Roja vs Azzurri

The general prediction of Germany and Spain reaching the Finals went for a huge toss when Italy stepped up on the big stage in the semi-finals.

Lets try to get a perspective of what the two teams have that gets them to this stage.
Olympic Stadium, Kyiv, Ukraine, Euro 2012 Poland & Ukraine - Final - Italy vs Spain
Olympic Stadium, Kyiv, Euro 2012 Poland & Ukraine - Final - Italy vs Spain
For Spain, supported by millions of fans across the globe, it's a rather straight forward answer - Attractive football / Attacking football.
But dig a little deeper and you'd find a completely different reason. The team have hardly played an attractive brand of football barring the exception of the group match versus Ireland. So if their trademark style did not get them here, then what did?

The answer to that has been common for most teams at Euro 2012 who have made it past the group stages. It is the team work. The combined effort of the team has seen Spain cover up its weaknesses. The most important being its defense, which definitely is not as strong as is midfield.

Another area of concern for Spain this time round has been the lack of firepower upfront. With a misfiring Torres and the absence of David Villa, Del Bosque found the right key in playing what has been termed as the "Flase 9", a tactic whereby Fabregas, an attacking midfielder, has been employed as the man upfront. Torres too made his impact when given the chance.

So all in all Spain have manged to sail through with a strong team effort and will need to do the same, if they nee to boost their chances of retaining the Trophy.

Key Players:
Captain: Iker Casillas
Defense: Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba
Midfield: Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Cesc FàbregasXabi Alonso, David Silva
Forward: Fernando Torres
Coach: Vicente del Bosque

To watch out for:
The form of Fabregas and David Silva will be crucial for Spain to make hay. They have been outstanding in this campaign but need to contribute now when it will matter the most. They would Vicente del Bosque's biggest hope.


Euro 2012 Final - Spain vs Italy - Goalkeeper Captains - Casillas and Buffon
Goalkeeper Captains to face off in the Finals


For Italy, the underdogs and a major surprise package, their strong teamwork and tactical approach has been the all important lesson for the teams that have not made it through.
Defeating Germany in the semi-final, touted by many to win the trophy, has been a major milestone in itself and only helped them regain their otherwise dwindling Big Boys status. 

Cesare Prandelli has shown super genius by employing his resources most optimally. Pirlo and Balotelli are the two perfect examples. The former touted to be too old to help Italy and the latter too young and ill tempered. But Prandelli has unlocked probably the best out of his boys and that has been the big difference.

Italy will try to stick to their set of rules in the Final too - A strong team ethic, a disciplined defense and a tactical approach to unlock the opponents weaknesses.
A win for Italy in the Final should come as a surprise!

Key Players:
Captain: Gianluigi Buffon
Defense: Giorgio Chiellini
Midfield: Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo
Forward: Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano
Coach: Cesare Prandelli

To watch out for:
The form of Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli will be crucial for Italy to make hay. They have been outstanding for Italy in this campaign and have contributed when it mattered the most. They are Prandelli's biggest hope.


To Predict the outcome of the Final would be a long shot. The 1 - 1 Draw in the Group Stage should be enough reason for that.


We should take comfort in the fact - Spain's 'flair' and Italy's 'tactics'  will ensure that the match will be an interesting Final!




*All Photo Courtesy: Uefa.com