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Michael 84

Football

Everything you love about the beautiful game.

Euro 2016 Kit Guide

Friday, 27th May, 2016

Don’t know your Turkey’s from your Iceland’s? I have made this Euro 2016 kit guide if you aren’t too familiar with football!

I love international football competitions, I always have done since I was a kid. Whether it’s the Euros, World Cup and even Confederations Cup or Copa America in it’s hay day, there’s just something that little bit more special when it comes to International tournaments.

A big part of it is of course the football kits. They can be a talking point, and usually are for one reason or another. In the last World Cup, the Spanish FA were forced to created a brand new 3rd kit, because FIFA decided that each team should have one light kit and one dark, and deemed both of Spain’s kits dark, so an all white kit was specially created for one match, and never, ever released. FIFA dictated strict rules to the nations and kit manufacturers, and wanted teams to play in all one colour, with Spain playing for the first time ever in all red. Euro 2016 is not controlled by FIFA, and when the new kits were released, they came with a more traditional feel, at least for some nations.

Most of the kits come from Adidas and Nike as usual, and both have gone down different routes. Most of the Adidas kits are the traditional blocking of colours, with the shirt and shorts different colours, and socks being either a third colour or matching the shorts. Nike have gone a different route, with teams such as England and France having the same colour shirt and shorts, and an alternative colour socks. This means England are playing with white shirts and shorts with red socks, with France playing in blue shirts and shorts with red socks, both are unusual and not traditional.

Other kit manufacturers include Umbro who make Republic of Ireland’s kit, Errea for Iceland, Macroon for Albania and Joma for Romania. The third biggest kit supplier behind Nike and Adidas are Puma with 5 kits. Adidas have 9 kits, and Nike have 6.

Here’s the home and away kits of all 24 nations at Euro 2016. Get more information on the tournament in my Euro 2016 blog here.

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The Spain Squad For Euro 2016 – Provisional 25 Man Squad

Tuesday, 17th May, 2016

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Vicente Del Bosque has named a provisional 25 man squad for Euro 2016, and as always, there’s a surprise or two. The biggest surprise is probably the omission of Juan Mata, and inclusion of Luis Vázquez of Real Madrid. The big names and nailed on players of the past squads such as Fernando Torres, Santi Cazorla, Javi Martinez and Jesus Navas have not been selected, neither has Diego Costa or Paco Alcacer, or newcomers in recent selections, Mario Gaspar and Nacho.

The newer faces are that of 31 year old Bruno (6 caps), 35 year old Aduriz (3 caps) and Saúl Ñiguez from Atleti who has been in previous squads but is uncapped.

2 of the players will be cut from the squad for the final squad of 23.

Interestingly Del Bosque has also called up 11 “young” players which will join up with the squad from 23rd May which are: Asenjo, Pau, Mere, Bellerin, Jonny, Denis Suarez, Llorente, Fornals, Asensio, Oyarzabal and Iñaki Williams.

My Thoughts

I have to say I am surprised with a few players not making it. Jesus Navas has not made the past few squads but has been keeping Sterling out of the Man City team, I thought he’d be an outside chance but that’s all. Santi Cazorla has been injured and only recently came back, Javi Martinez has also been injured and there’s always doubts over Diego Costa’s fitness and whether or not he can fit into Spain’s system. Fernando Torres was another outside bet, but Del Bosque has gone for youth in Vazquez and in-form Aduriz. I don’t see much point in calling up Vazquez or Saúl if you’re not going to include them in the final 23, but if one (or both) of them don’t miss out, a more experienced player will. Could that be Pedro? I am surprised that one from either Alcacer or Diego Costa was not picked. Alcacer has scored lots of goals for Spain when he’s played.

Spain Provisional Euro 2016 Squad

Goalkeepers

I Casillas, D de Gea, S Rico,

Defenders

S Ramos, G Pique, D Carvajal, J Alba, M Bartra, C Azpilicueta, M San Jose, Juanfran,

Midfielders

Bruno, S Busquets, Koke, Thiago, A Iniesta, Isco, D Silva, Pedro, C Fabregas,

Forwards

S Niguez, A Aduriz, Nolito, A Morata, L Vazquez

Check out the final Spain 23 man squad for Euro 2016 here.


Football Predictions – Matchday 20

Saturday, 2nd January, 2016

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Happy 2016!

We’re now at halfway point in the season, and it’s been possibly the most bizarre football season in Premier League history. There’s always the odd shock, sometimes teams big teams fall for a few games and small teams have a good run at the start of the season, but that usually fades away after 5 or 6 games. Not this season, which see’s Chelsea sitting in 14th place at the half way stage after running away with the league last May, and Leicester City, who were facing relegation for almost the entire season last time round, sitting in 2nd place on the same points as leaders Arsenal; You also have to credit teams like Crystal Palace who lie in 5th place, ahead of clubs like Man Utd and Liverpool, and Watford who were promoted last season who find themselves a deserved 9th.

Games are now coming thick and fast, with all teams involved this weekend, FA Cup next weekend, then a bit of a double header resuming on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th before the next weekend’s games. Here’s my predictions for this weekend.

Saturday 2nd January 2016

West Ham 0 – 1 Liverpool
Arsenal 2 – 0 Newcastle
Leicester 3 – 2 Bournemouth
Man Utd 1 – 0 Swansea
Norwich 1 – 1 Southampton
Sunderland 1 – 1 Aston Villa
West Brom 1 – 2 Stoke
Watford 1 – 2 Man City

Sunday 3rd January 2016

Crystal Palace 2 – 1 Chelsea
Everton 2 – 2 Spurs


Spain Home, Away & Goalkeeper Shirt Unveiled For Euro 2016

Wednesday, 11th November, 2015

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After a few weeks of rumours and kit leaks, Adidas has officially unveiled the new Spain shirt which is designed for Euro 2016 in the summer. I have seen these pictures, and I am unsure what to make of it at the moment.

It’s a lighter red design than the last one, and is a more traditional red colour as they’ve had before. It has triangular patterns, which is supposed to represent the way Spain plays football, a geometrical formation.

The shorts will be royal blue, with the socks looking black (but may actually be a very dark navy). An exciting addition is the ability to buy a long sleeve version of the shirt for the very first time in a retail store, or at least the first I have seen. The long sleeve version will probably be worn by Gerard Pique, who usually wears long sleeves, and some other players may do too. A players, Adizero version is available for £90.

The home goalkeeper shirt is a familiar blue, with a blue tonal badge and horizontal pinstripes. They has been rumours of 4 different goalkeeper shirts, this blue one, as well as a dark grey, yellow and finally a red top. It will be an interesting move to see what the official tops turn out to be, as teams only usually have a home and away shirt, with corresponding goalkeeper shirts.

The away shirt is yet to be announced, although rumours and leaked images show a white shirt with red and yellow diamond patterns to the front. UPDATED BELOW

The home shirt & home keeper shirt are both released this Friday, and will be worn in the game against England.

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Adidas officially unveils Spain 2016 Away Shirt

Today Adidas has officially unveiled the Spain away shirt, as well as the away goalkeeper shirt. The away shirt is the same as the leaks and rumours, a white shirt with red and yellow triangle patterns, which is supposed to emulate a heat map of the infamous Fernando Torres winning goal of the 2008 Euro’s. The design looks pretty funky without knowing that, but once known it explains all.
The away goalkeeper shirt looks really nice and is yellow, with the same triangular patterns seen on all the shirts on the shoulders.

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Football Is Back! First Day Of The Premier League!

Saturday, 8th August, 2015

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The football is back! We’ve been without footy since May, since there was no Euro’s or World Cup in the summer, there has been no competitive football since the last day of last season back in May, but now it’s back! As with part of last season, I will be doing the Super Six on the App, so I will be posting my predictions for each weeks matches; As I found out last season, it’s quite difficult! :mrgreen:

What’s happened since May?

  • Well Newcastle stayed up on the last day with a win against West Ham. Burnley QPR and Hull went down, with Norwich, Watford and Bournemouth coming up.
  • There’s been quite a large number of high profile transfers with a couple of players swapping clubs; Most notable Raheem Sterling’s switch from Liverpool to Man City for 44M (rising to 49M). Petr Cech has moved from Chelsea to Arsenal, Falcao who was at Man Utd on loan last season went back to Monaco and then back out on loan, this time to Chelsea.
  • Liverpool have spent a fortune and brought in Firmino, Milner, Ings, Clyne and Benteke; While Man Utd have splashed out on Depay, Romero, Darmain, Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin

First Half Season Predictions

So it’s a new season, I might as well make a few end of season predictions for how I see the season going with what’s happened in the transfer window so far.

  • Chelsea will win the league, with Man City coming second. The top 4 will be rounded off with Arsenal and Man Utd with Liverpool just missing out.
  • Norwich, Watford and Bournemouth will all go straight back down.
  • Newcastle will battle it out for a top 10 spot but will fall short and finish 11-12th.

This week’s predictions

(Predictions will be in italic with actual results under when available)

Man Utd 2 – 0 Spurs
Man Utd 1 – 0 Spurs

Bournemouth 2 – 1 Aston Villa
Bournemouth 0 – 1 Aston Villa

Everton 2 – 1 Watford
Everton 2 – 2 Watford

Leicester 2 – 0 Sunderland
Leicester 4 – 2 Sunderland

Norwich 2 – 2 Crystal Palace
Norwich 1 – 3 Crystal Palace

Chelsea 1 – 0 Swansea
Chelsea 2 – 2 Swansea

Sunday

Arsenal 2 – 0 West Ham
Arsenal 0 – 2 West Ham

Newcastle 2 – 2 Southampton
Newcastle 2 – 2 Southampton

Stoke 2 – 1 Liverpool
Stoke 0 – 1 Liverpool

Monday

West Brom 0 – 3 Man City


Champions League Final 2015 – Juve vs Barca

Saturday, 6th June, 2015

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It’s the pinnicle of European club football, tonight it’s the final of the Champions League and last club game of this season. It is Juventus vs Barcelona, live from Berlin with a 19:45 kick off time. I am really looking forward to this game, it should be a good one!

The build up has put Barca as favourites, and their deadly MSN strikeforce…That’s Messi, Suarez and Neymar if you haven’t been keeping up with Spanish football 😉 I have actually fancied Juve to do well in this year’s competition for a long while, they have always been my dark horse. Italian football has not had a very good last 10 years or so, a shadow of what it was in the 90’s, but I think it’s starting to come good again. Juve have a lot of talent such as Pogba, Tevez and Morata, and I can’t forget my favourite Juve player who probably will not start but may feature, Fernando Llorente.

It’s also the game of the double winning sides looking to go for a treble; Both Juventus and Barcelona have done their respective domestic doubles, winning the league and national cups, so whoever wins will be completing a treble; I think that could be a first where we’ve seen two teams fighting for a treble.

The game itself will be interesting, I think it will largely depend on how Juventus will set out to play; Will they be a traditional defence minded Italian team, or will they take the fight to Barca who will attack?

I will go for a Barca win with only one goal in it; 2-1 ….But you never know we may see a 4-3 or something really spectacular, both teams have that in their locker 😉


The Biggest Premier League Football Teams According To Social Media

Thursday, 19th February, 2015

Premier League Social Media League Table

We all know who the best teams are in the league, we have an actual league system for that very thing. But what about popularity? How can you measure that? Crowd attendance could be one measure, but lots of people can’t go to games, but stadiums can only hold a certain number of people and many sell out week in, week out. What about social media following? This is a good measure because these days lots of people are on things like Facebook and Twitter, and fans love to follow their teams and keep on the pulse of what’s going on at their club. Not only that, social media is worldwide, so it can really show you what teams in the Premier League are really popular in the world, and the world of social media.

I was curious about this, so I got to work on making a list and finding out the followings of all the English Premier League football clubs, and their following. I decided that I would use the two biggest social media sites, Twitter and Facebook, and get a total for each team’s following, and the total of fans and followers combined.

The criteria is simple; How many people are following the official profiles of each club. It does not take into consideration fansites or fan run accounts, nor does it take into consideration language/location specific accounts (e.g. Man Utd have several official accounts for different territories, only their official English account is used in this).

As you would expect the top 5 accounts are Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City. The teams which have done the best, or had the most history in football. It shows that Chelsea and Arsenal both have more Twitter followers than Man Utd, but Man Utd’s strength in their Facebook numbers take them to the top of the league. I did find some surprising results. My team, Newcastle came in 9th, behind Everton and Aston Villa which I did not expect. Swansea and Hull both top 1 million followers, with Sunderland behind them with over 900k. Burnley are set adrift at the bottom with only 249k combine number of followers, around half that of 19th placed team Leicester City, with West Brom 3rd bottom on 650k followers.

All clubs combined pull in over 220 million followers, almost 200m of them from Facebook.


The End For Spain? Where Did It Go Wrong? – The End Of A Generation?

Thursday, 19th June, 2014

The End Of An Era For Spain? - World Cup 2014

The End For Spain? Where Did It Go Wrong? – The End Of A Generation?

These are the questions every Spanish fan is asking…Spain are out of the World Cup for the first time since 1998 at the group stage, losing their first two matches with one still to play. I think there were a lot of things to blame for Spain going out of the tournament so early.

The Diego Costa Experiment Did Not Work – Diego Costa, Experimento Fallido

Diego Costa had a brilliant season for Atlético Madrid, with 36 goals in all competition, helping them to get to the final of the Champions League and winning La Liga. However he was not fit, and has not played 90 minutes for a long time. He is also inexperienced with the national side, having only played twice before the World Cup, only playing 90 minutes for La Roja once, against Italy back in March. Playing Diego Costa also means a change in the Spanish system, a system which has worked for 6 years with success. Diego Costa was poor in the games he played, some may say he did not get the service, and they could be partly correct, Diego Costa does not belong in this Spain squad.

Unfit, Semi-Injured and Out Of Form Players Picked

The squad was littered with players who were either unfit or out of form. Pique, Diego Costa, Xabi Alonso were all injured coming into the tournament, Xabi Alonso being the fittest out of the three. Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, and Cesc, all out of form with their clubs, with Jordi Alba not putting in his best season with Barcelona either. Iker Casillas has not been playing regularly enough, but is usually dependable, however he was far from his best, with a poor defence in front of him.

Good In Form Players Dropped

Dani Carvajal, Fernando Llorente, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and even newcomer to the squad Gerard Deulofeu were players who could and should have made the final 23 for Spain. Carvajal has had an impressive season with Real Madrid, Fernando Llorente has the experience with the national team and has played a lot of football, scoring 16 goals in Serie A and helping Juventus to win the league. Jesus Navas had an injury but said he was fit enough, and could have featured as an impact sub if needed. The same could be said with Deulofeu, who is a young player who would play with no fear and run at defenders. Negredo has been out of form in the latter stages of the season, but started well, and has more Spain experience than Diego Costa.

The Good Players, Dependable Players Of Old Were Poor

Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Silva, Iniesta and Casillas were all very, very poor. Xabi Alonso and Busquets never dominated the midfield or protected the back four enough, they were poor in possession and could not get the ball back. The passing from Xavi and Iniesta was not very good either, both were shadows of their former selves. The defence was poor, Pique and Sergio Ramos looked like they had never played together and seemed tired, Pique was dropped and Martinez came in and was not as terrible, but not brilliant either. Jordi Alba and Azpilicueta could not get down the wings like Spain teams of old. David Silva was one of the stars of the Premier League last season, and one of the best players for Man City, but he did not turn up at this World Cup. Xavi and Iniesta could not make the killer passes they’ve shown to be capable of. Casillas was at fault for a few goals, although his defence did not cover themselves in glory either.

Spain just played poor – ¡Estrellados!

Sloppy passing, not enough being created, the defending was poor, not enough energy. Spain played poor in both games, and never really looked comfortable. In possession they gave the ball away too cheaply and were not passing like they usually do. The creative players were not getting in the game enough. The whole team looked tired.

The End For Spain? – What Now? – El fin de una generación única

Is this the end for this Spain team? With a few players over the age of 32, will they do what Alvaro Arbeloa has done and announce international retirement? Is it really time for them to step down after such a long reign of success? I think some of the core players should stay on, at least through qualifying, to help the new younger players who will undoubtedly come in to the squad for the next big tournament Euro 2016.

Casillas (33), Xavi (34), Xabi Alonso (32) and David Villa (32) are all over 32, with most now coming to an end of their career; Casillas is not a regular at Real Madrid, there’s talk of Xavi and Xabi Alonso no longer wanted at Barca and Real Madrid, and David Villa will be playing in Australia and USA next season.

Thank You – We’ll Never Forget The 6 Years of Dominance – Gracias!

Whatever happens in the future, nothing will ever take away what this group of players have achieved. The best EVER international team, the best EVER squad, winning an unprecedented three major competitions in a row which has never been done before. People talk about Brazil 1970, but this group of players have achieved so much more, in tougher, more competitive modern day football, They’ve done what nobody has ever done before them. Winning Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012, an amazing group of players playing football the right way.

There will never be another Spain

Gracias Siempre - Thank You Spain - Viva La Roja!