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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ronaldinho Finally Sign For Milan

Ronaldinho has agreed initial terms with AC Milan and the Serie A club will now speak to Barcelona about a deal, Milan and the player's agent have said.

The 28-year-old Brazilian has had a difficult few months at the Nou Camp because of injury and loss of form and a move has long been mooted.

The forward is out for the rest of the campaign with a leg injury and a transfer can not officially go through until the end of the season.

'In general Ronaldinho and Milan are in agreement,' his agent and brother Roberto de Assis was quoted as saying on the Gazzetta dello Sport website on Saturday.

Gazzetta said a deal up to 2012 worth eight million euros ($12.6 million) a year was in the pipeline with a few clauses to be agreed.

Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani said: 'There is a general agreement with the player. Now a deal has to be reached with Barcelona. Give us time.'

Spanish and Italian media reports have speculated about a transfer fee of between 20 and 30 million euros while some newspapers have talked about Ronaldinho buying up the rest of his contract at Barca.

Milan are fifth in Serie A and in danger of missing next year's Champions League after a poor season. They were dumped out of this year's Champions League as holders by Arsenal in the first knockout round.

Carlo Ancelotti's men have struggled to score and create goals with Brazilian Ronaldo playing just a handful of games before being ruled out long term with a knee injury.

Fellow striker Alberto Gilardino has been lacklustre and world player of the year Kaka has been far from his best.

Despite their troubles, Ancelotti has been assured of his job next term.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Rafa Benitez Defends His Liverpool Transfer Record

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has defended his record in the transfer market during his time at Anfield.

He told The Times: "At a time when we didn't have endless economic resources, I think that we made good signings in general. We should be talking about players like Reina, Agger, Mascherano, Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia, Torres, Babel, Lucas Leiva, Skrtel and also Arbeloa, Sissoko, Fabio Aurelio, Kuyt. These are players who have brought a lot to the team. And in certain cases � for example, Sissoko and Bellamy � the club gained financially.

"We have signed 28 players in four years for the first team. Considering that the number of changes we had to make when I arrived and the fact that without much money we have to take more risks, I don't think this is a disproportionate number."

Benitez also compared his spending with Liverpool's nearest rivals.

"Chelsea had spent £120 million previously and an additional £240 million to win the league in the 2004-05 season. Manchester United have spent £200 million in recent years. This year on Carlos Tevez, Owen Hargreaves, Anderson and Nani, that cost them more than £70 million. Tottenham have spent £100 million in the last two seasons alone. And Arsenal have spent more or less the same amount as we have on young players with potential.<> "In my four years at Liverpool we have spent £150 million and we have gained somewhere in the region of £70 million. Looking at those numbers, there's a difference of £20 million per season, yet we have won four [trophies] and played seven finals. When all things are considered, that's not a bad return. I think that we're on the right path."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

How To Play Soccer

So you want to learn how to play soccer? Well you have come to the right place. To become a good soccer player you need to master several skills. You cannot just focus on one single skill, instead, you must also have other good skills like good control on the ball or quality passes.

You must always tend to improve your soccer skills because there is always something you can improve in your game. So, let's take a look at main how to play soccer skills that you need to master as soccer player.

How To Play Soccer -The Formations

A soccer formation describes how the players in a soccer team are positioned on the field. Different formations are used from match to match depending on the skill of your opponents. If your opponents are ultra defensive then of course a more offensive formation like 4-3-3 is preferable.

But if your opponents are ultra offensive than a 4-4-2 formation is more preferable. For example the 4-4-2 describes the formation of playing with 4 defenders, 4 midfielders and two forwards/centers, and is the most widely used formation in soccer today.

How to Play Soccer - Dribbling

In soccer, dribbling is one of the most difficult skills to master but also one of the most useful attacking moves. In a typical soccer game, you and your teammates attempt to propel the ball toward your opponent's goal through individual ball control, such as dribbling your opponents.

If you master the art of dribbling you will be pretty hard to stop and opponents will need to make unsuccessful tackles on you which will result in useful free kicks and sometimes even penalty kicks.

How to Play Soccer - Heading

To dominate the game in the air you need to have good heading skills. Heading can be painful in beginning because you must hit the ball with right part of your head. But don't worry about headache because there is no medical evidence proving that heading in soccer should cause brain damage. There are four main methods for hitting a ball.

How to Play Soccer - Passing

To perform well in soccer you need to have good passing skills. Passing may seem easy from first sight and in fact it is. What makes passing difficult is the tempo of a match. A low tempo will give you more time to think and you will not make so many mistakes as in high tempo where you need to think fast and pass the ball with accuracy.

How to Play Soccer - Positions

First player in front of the goalkeeper is called defender. As a defender your mission is to stop your opponents from shooting and getting into your goal kick area. There are also teams playing with a defender closer to the goalkeeper than regularly. This position is called libero or sweeper. The libero/sweeper must always be the last player in defense and help his/her defenders.

Behind your forwards and defensive line there are midfielders. As a midfielder your task is to score goals and to stop your opponent's midfielders from scoring. Usually a midfielder is either offensive (means playing higher in the field) or defensive (which means playing nearer your defensive line).

In front of the midfielders there are forwards and centers. The main difference between these two is that a forward normally has good sprinting abilities while centers are stronger and better target players.

How to Play Soccer - Shooting

Good shooting abilities are vital if you want to score goals. With soccer shooting mastered, you will be able to score more goals. Good scoring ability is also important because it may increase your chances of becoming a professional soccer player.

How to Play Soccer -Kicking

Having god kicking skills is not the same as good shooting abilities. A good example on this is the free kick. A direct free kick is a great chance to score goal especially if you have a good technical shoot. You don't have to be the hardest shooting player in your team to become a good free kick taker; instead, you should focus on hitting the goal. A hard shot is more difficult to control and will often end up 50 yards behind the goal.

The Rules

To learn how to play soccer or simply to understand how soccer is played you need to look at some of the basic rules. Let's start...

Each soccer team consists of eleven players who plays together (similar to a orchestra) to score points. These points are called goals and the team that scores most goals during a match is the winner.

A goal is scored when the ball is over the whole goal line. As a soccer player you can use your whole body to control the ball (beside your arms). Only the goalkeeper is allowed to grip the ball with hands. However, as a goalkeeper you may only use your hands to grip the ball while standing in your goal area.

Outside the goal area you have same responsibility as the rest of your team and cannot use your hands anymore. However, you can act like any player on the field and you may also score if you get a chance of course :-) Typically a soccer match last 90 minutes with two 45 minute halves. However, the younger the players are the shorter matches, generally

The soccer ball should be of size 5 for adults and 4 and lower for players younger than 12. You will also need a pair of shin-guards to protect the front of your lower legs against slide tackles. You will also need a pair of shoes but this is only necessary during a regular soccer game. Rings and earring must also be removed before the start of match.

A soccer field can range in size dependent upon the league you are playing, how old you are, indoor field, outdoor field, etc. The most common size of a soccer field will range from 100-130 yards in length. There are also flags on each corner to mark the corner spot. On a soccer field there are usually eleven soccer positions including a goalkeeper.

Five Simple and Effective Ways to Become a Better Football Player

These are tips that I developed from my playing days. These techniques worked well for me and I hope they can help others become the player they want to be.

1. Run every day

Running 3 miles every day is a great cardiovascular workout and will help keep you at your peak fitness. Run uphill as much as possible. At around 2 miles, find a steep hill and sprint up it for about 20-30 meters then turn round and walk back down. Repeat this 5 to ten times before finishing the run. If you do this every day you will find you can play at your best for longer because you'll be stronger and fitter.

2. Do exercises to increase your speed

Find a drop of around 150cm or stand on a barrel or safe object of a similar height. Jump off, landing on both feet in a squatting position and stand up straight as quickly as possible. Make sure you are well warmed up and stretched before doing this exercise to avoid injury. This exercise will strengthen quick reflex muscles in the legs, improving speed.

3. Learn to play with both feet

Most footballers play far better with one foot than the other, it's difficult to improve your touch with your stronger foot. Concentrating on your weaker foot is a quick win as bigger improvements can be made with less work. Kick a ball against a wall using only your weaker foot. Have a scratch game in training where everyone plays only with their weaker foot. It doesn't take much effort and you will notice results within a short space of time.

4. Learn a new trick

When you see a new trick by a professional, watch it closely, over and over again before attempting it. Online video is good for this purpose. Spend 10 minutes every day learning and perfecting the trick. Don't try it in a game until you can do it perfectly every time and don't overuse it or your opponents will figure you out.

5. Learn from the professionals

Watch professional footballers play and copy them. Sounds obvious but you'd be amazed how few players do this. Pick a player who plays in the same position as you and watch him closely, learn his tricks and pay attention to his positions when not on the ball. The player you choose should be someone you look up to and aspire to. The player I liked to learn from was Franck Sauzee, the ex-France, Marseilles and Hibernian midfield player. An excellent all round player who was always at the peak of his game.

Finally, don't be put off if you don't become Maradona over night. It takes time to become a great player and improving every part of your game gradually is the important thing. Sticking to a good routine and training properly are the key things to remember.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Toure: Title tilt still a possibility for Arsenal

Kolo Toure believes he has a 'nasty' streak that can help Arsenal put their Barclays Premier League title bid back on track.

The Gunners head to Bolton tomorrow in their worst run of league form in nine seasons after taking only four points from the last five games to allow both Manchester United and Chelsea to overtake them at the top of the table.

Manager Arsene Wenger believes his side have paid a high price for some poor defensive displays - which was evident at Stamford Bridge last weekend where Toure and central partner William Gallas failed to deal with the threat of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka as the Blues came from behind to win 2-1.

Ivory Coast international Toure, 27, has, though, been one of the most consistent performers since he came into the first team.

The mild-mannered African, who arrived at Highbury in February 2002, learned from legendary former Gunners such as Tony Adams and Martin Keown, who were renowned for their no-nonsense approach.

'One who really helped me a lot was Martin Keown,' Toure said, speaking in the April edition of the official Arsenal magazine.

'I have played with him several times and he helped me establish myself in the squad.

'He (was) always giving me advice, teaching me some of the intelligent things and also some nasty things you need to do in the game.

'Martin was an amazing player for Arsenal. He had a great career and had a good attitude on the pitch - he was always involved, always helping the team, always pushing people to encourage each other and raising the level because you can't rely on just one person to do that.'

Despite now trailing leaders Manchester United by six points - and one behind Chelsea - Arsenal are still not yet out of the title race, as key fixtures between the top three are still to come.

Toure accepts it is a tough battle for the championship, but insists the Gunners must focus only on their own performances rather than worry about what might happen elsewhere.

'It seems that this season the title race involves three teams and this shows that the league is really strong at the moment,' he said.

'But we have to concentrate on ourselves, and on what we have to do over the remaining games - if we win the rest of our games we will have a great chance of winning the title.'

Wenger reported a clean bill of health from those who returned from international duty to the training ground yesterday morning before he set off to the Emirates Stadium where French president Nicolas Sarkozy met Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

However, the Gunners will be missing full-back Bacary Sagna, set to be out for up to a month after suffering an ankle injury at Chelsea.

'It is a big blow because he has been a revelation for us, a fantastic player,' said Wenger, whose side face Liverpool three times in a week after the Bolton game as they resume Champions League action.

The Arsenal manager accepts his team must tighten up at the back if they are to put pressure on leaders United.

Wenger said: 'What we want to do is perform well as a team again and we know we can do that.

'At Chelsea we played okay, but we have to improve. Recently what punished us a lot is that defensively we have made big mistakes.'

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Best League In The World ???

In the next couple of weeks, four English clubs: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool will be involved in the quarter final stage of the highest club competition tournament in Europe, The European Champions League. A phenomenal feat that would surely make any English natives hold their heads up high with pride and the right to claim, that today, the English Premier League is the best league in Europe and the world.

But, along with the phenomenon, comes an irony regarding English football itself. Despite having four clubs competing in the European Champions League quarter final, their very own national team failed to qualify for the EURO 2008 tournament in Switzerland and Austria. The question is why? Why can't they qualify when they have so many world class players and managers in their league?

The answer lies within the nationality of those world class players and managers. Take a look at the nationality compositions of the four clubs that made it through the quarter final. Exactly how many of them can be defined as "English?"

We have four top-class clubs and none of them are managed by an English manager. The closest thing that comes to an English manager is Alex Ferguson who is Scottish by nationality. Theo Walcott is the only top English player in the Arsenal squad, and he doesn't even see regular first team football. Liverpool only has two English players as regular starters: Steven Gerrard and Jammie Carragher. The same number goes for Chelsea.

With so many foreigners, I don't think it's fair to say that those who are involved in the quarter final can be called "English teams." Rather, they should be called a name that resembles global and European teams who use England as their base.

There has been a lot of criticism about too many foreigners playing in European clubs for quite some time now. But then again, this is the risk of progress, the risk of going global. European football, especially English football, has grown into an "international brand" for football since the early 90's. The Bosman rule, globalization, and the EU labor policies and laws make it possible for any player to work and play football in Europe, as long as they have the skills.

In recent years, we have also seen a number of huge investments in football clubs made by foreign investors. These investments are particularly taking place in England where investors see the most potential for growth and profit. Suddenly, we have a Russian oil tycoon, some American sugar daddies, and Dubai's crowned prince as owners of major European clubs. The football clubs have been taken away from their real owners, the fans. And to make things worse, most of the investors invested in football clubs just so they can sell their stocks back to gain profits. Their sincerity to put money into the long term success of the club is highly questionable.

As with any other investments, all that investors want are fast results. There is no time for them to wait for home-grown players to develop into world class footballers. They want to buy already established players, win some trophies as fast as possible, and increase the value of the club before selling it back to another blood thirsty investor.

Football clubs are being taken out of their roots all over England, and there's nothing the FA, UEFA or FIFA can do about it. They condemn the investments, but can do nothing because the reality is primarily concerned about the money. In a free global market, anyone who has the money is allowed to do whatever he pleases as long as it is within the law. And no law can prohibit the buying and selling of clubs.

This is the sad reality of global football, and it will affect the biggest football nations of Europe. Will they have strong clubs? The most definitely will, but will they have the usual strong national teams? That remains very doubtful...