September 19, 2012
It was the perfect sound-bite to herald a new chapter in the distinguished career of Alessandro del Piero.
“I am not here for the end of my career, I am here for the start of a new career,” was the pledge from arguably one of the finest players of his generation on touching down in Sydney to an estimated crowd of 500 hysterical fans and fanatics who enjoy premier league betting and have an interest in other European leagues like Serie A.
It was the kind of entrance that Hollywood A-list celebrities have become accustomed to at international airport, but del Piero dealt with the fuss and adulation like a natural and with the swagger which has followed his career.
The 37-year-old has agreed to join Sydney FC on a two-year deal worth an estimated $4m.
Not a bad pension, though he will aim to help the club to success in the AFC Champions League.
A World Cup and Champions League winner, del Piero has also won six Serie A titles in a trophy-laden career with Juventus.
The club has taken a gamble shelling out a reported $70,000 a week for his services, but this was a punt worth taking.
The one-club icon is the kind of marquee signing that A League fans feared had dried up and his arrival is certain to generate untold publicity for a division that was in danger of becoming a forgotten out-post.
Sydney have three training sessions before a final pre-season trial match against Newcastle on Saturday and club officials have said it will be left to del Piero to decide when he has fully recovered from the flight to Australia.
If his arrival was anything to go by, they can be sure the wait will be worth it.
September 18, 2012
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert must have breathed a huge sigh of relief last weekend as his side recorded their first victory of the season against Swansea at Villa Park.
Matthew Lowton’s strike and new signing Christian Benteke’s debut goal sealed a 2-0 win over the Swans and sees Villa leap away from the relegation zone early in this Premier League campaign. The relief on Lambert’s face at full time was evident and there is potentially more to come from Villa after Benteke’s 19 minutes off success.
“I thought Christian was unplayable, he was an absolute threat,” Lambert said after the game. “The great thing is he’s only 21, only a kid and still learning.
“The goal will give him confidence. The crowd will go with him. You heard the crowd’s reaction when he came on.”
Villa fans are in need of a favourite after witnessing key players leave the club over recent years. They have devolved from European challengers to relegation battlers in just two seasons, with Gareth Barry, James Milner, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young all departing the club in search of trophies elsewhere.
Darren Bent has struggled to carry the side up front and Charles N’Zogbia only shows glimmers of the ability that made ex-manager Alex McLeish pay £9.5m for the former Wigan winger.
In Benteke, Villa potentially have a new star that can pull the club out of its dire situation; and he will need to hit it off with Bent in order to steer this team away from the bottom three and into mid-table safety.
Many football bets suggest that relegation is very much on the cards at Villa Park and if Lambert isn’t careful this Premier League institution could go the way of Blackburn Rovers come May. He will be hoping for more from Benteke and Bent in the coming weeks to allay Rovers-style murmurs of crowd discontent.
Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson’s quest to bring the Premier League title back to the red half of the city appears to be picking up pace. Get the latest insight from Bet Victor, and check out the latest Manchester United betting markets.
August 31, 2012
New Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers, has promised that the Anfield club will secure at least two more signings before the summer transfer deadline closes, according to Premier League news sources.
For the sake of his future at the 18-time league winners, Rodgers had better hope his words transform into deals.
The 39-year-old manager is already under intense pressure, as many Liverpool faithful do not believe the ex-Swansea gaffer is a ‘big’ enough name for the club.
So far this summer, Rodgers has watched Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt exit Anfield, two players with 18-years Premier League experience between them.
With a turbulent season ahead for the Reds, losing players who have topflight mileage is not a wise decision.
The pressure on Rodgers at Liverpool will be ten-fold the norm, considering the high expectations from the Anfield faithful.
Yet 2012-13 will be another season where the club will fall further behind England’s elite.
Manchester City are turning in to a true juggernaut that could dominate football, while Chelsea have brought in fresh talent and Manchester United remain superior to their oldest rivals.
Rodgers needs his next two signings – players that he has declared areon their way to Merseyside – to be players of real stature.
The recent acquisition of Joe Allen from Swansea for £15million is a good buy for the future, and the player clearly has talent, but he is not a Premier League winner, yet.
Liverpool fans will yearn for a time – which was not all that long ago –when the Reds had Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano flanking Steven Gerrard in the midfield.
Both players now ply their trade at the two best sides in Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Rodgers already has a mountain to climb just to prove his naysayers and the cynics wrong. Right now, he will fail unless he has two special talents tucked up his sleeve.
Liverpool betting markets place the Reds as lively outsiders in the Premier League betting odds, coming in at 33/1.
June 19, 2012
Cesare Prandelli was delighted by his Italian side’s fighting spirit after booking their place in the quarter-finals following a 2-0 victory against the Republic of Ireland. Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli grabbed the goals that helped Italy to a crucial 2-0 victory against the brave Irish, ensuring Prandelli’s side did everything they could to progress to the knockout stages.
Spain’s 1-0 victory against Croatia meant that the Italians avoided an early exit and the 2006 World Cup winners reached the final-eight. Prandelli admitted afterwards that his team had to work to see off the stubborn Ireland side, managed by former Italy head coach Giovanni Trapattoni, praising his side for coming away from the match with the three points.
“It has been a very difficult match, we came up against a team that made us suffer,” Prandelli said.
“Today we knew that heart mattered more than quality. Tonight we created a lot, I hope it will be like this also in the next match.”
“No difference to us (who we play) we have already played Spain who are reigning world and European champions. If we play well we can take on anyone.”
The victory ensured Italy came through their Group C campaign as runners-up, behind group winners and defending champions Spain. Italy will now know that Group D winners England await them in the knockout stages, in a game that is one of the most evenly matched of all the quarter-finals.
England progressed to the final-eight with relative ease, coming through their group containing France, co-hosts Ukraine and Sweden as the winners, and will be full of belief that they can continue to surprise themselves and others by reaching the semi-finals.
Despite Italy’s heroics it is Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain who are considered favourites for the competition. If you fancy a flutter on the holders retaining their crown then don’t forget you can get all the best Spain Betting odds, tips and advice with Betfair. Click here for more information: http://betting.betfair.com/football/euro-2012/group-d/england/
June 13, 2012
Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky hopes he can recover from the Achilles injury he picked up during the victory against Greece in time to play in his side’s final group match against co-hosts Poland on Saturday.
The 31-year-old midfielder, who has endured an injury-ravaged time since moving to Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund six years ago, was unable to reappear for the second half after picking up the problem before the break.
Rosicky was forced to go to hospital for a scan on the injury after the 2-1 victory, as did goalkeeper Petr Cech, who is struggling with a sore shoulder.
However, Rosicky has revealed that he suffered from a similar problem in the soccer games during the closing weeks of the Premier League season.
He said: “I played three matches with this at the end of the season but it has not been as painful as it is now. I can barely stand on the foot but I am not giving up. If it is at least a little possible, I will play.”
The Czech Republic’s team doctor has said both Rosicky and Cech have a 75 per cent chance of playing against Poland.
Both teams go into the match with the sports betting odds in their favour, and knowing they can qualify for the quarter-finals, as can the other two teams in the group – Greece and Russia.
Rosicky has started only 78 Premier League matches for the Gunners since being signed by Arsene Wenger for £6.8million in May 2006.
He missed the entire 2008-09 campaign with a troublesome hamstring tendon injury, a problem which also meant he was forced to sit out the Czech Republic’s Euro 2008 campaign.
February 28, 2012
There has been a lot of unrest at Chelsea in recent months with manager Andres Villas Boas becoming increasing under pressure as his team lie 5th place in the Premier Leaugue and on the brink of crashing out of the Champions League. And while there are rumours that there is player unrest at the club because of young manager Villas Boas, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has moved to play down such rumours.
Inconsistency has plagued the Blues this season and speculation has surfaced of a rift between the boss and the players, who are thought to be unhappy with his tactics and team selections.
Villas Boas has already admitted that he fears for his job when he compares his current position with the likes of previous managers who have been sacked from Stamford Bridge in the past and he has had little public backing from the club Roman Abramovich leading bwin betting to predict that he will be sacked before the end of the season.
Billionaire owner Abramovich held talks with the manager and squad in the wake of their defeat at Everton earlier this month, fuelling rumours all is not well behind the scenes.
But veteran keeper Cech, who was awarded the Czech player of the year prize for 2011 on Monday, insists that meeting was misrepresented by the media.
He told isport.blesk.cz: “Everyone has been talking about a meeting between the team and Abramovich.
“The truth is elsewhere and the picture of that meeting was misrepresented.”
He added: “Chelsea has been under huge pressure from the media and if we are not doing well then the pressure mounts.
“The media uses that to form some nonsense theory or speculation, and we have to live with that.”
Chelsea currently sit outside the UEFA Champions League places on goal difference and are not the stan james favourites to qualify but Cech is confident of them securing a top-four finish, and is hoping to go one better.
“We still have a chance to finish third but our aim is to finish fourth as the worst case scenario. That’s clear,” he said.
“I still believe things will turn for the better and our season will be successful.
“Everybody has been doing their best to change the situation. But what happens in training we are not able to take into competitive games. People can hardly say we’re not putting in enough effort.”
June 8, 2011
Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has completed his long-awaited move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, after turning down an offer to join Manchester United to sign a five year deal.
The Premier League champions have been searching for a replacement for the retiring Edwin Van der Sar, who played his last game for the club in the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Barcelona in the Champions League final last month.
The 25-year-old put in a spectacular display against United in the Champions League and earned plaudits for his commanding presence as the Premier League side looked to over-run Schalke.
But Ferguson admitted defeat in his attempts to sign Neuer after the game, admitting the there was little he could do about his move to Bayern.
“We’re very happy to have acquired one of the world’s best goalkeepers and we’re happy about the long-term partnership,” sporting director Christian Nerlinger told Bayern’s official website.
The goalkeeper, who starred for Germany at the World Cup, recieved less than a warm welcome from supporters of his new club however after some carried banners with the slogan “No Neuer” because of the rivalry between the two clubs.
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May 25, 2011
As Edwin Van der Sar said his goodbyes to the Old Trafford faithful with Sir Alex Ferguson standing alongside him having already offered his tribute to the Dutchman –his moving tribute stretched to calling him a “big lump” - the Scot knew he already had in the bag a replacement.
David De Gea, Atletico Madrid’s number 1, has all but completed his £17 million switch to Manchester having been speaking to United for almost two months, and will be confronted with the prospect of filling in for the man who has achieved what most thought was impossible – silencing the voices of discontent that were calling for the days Peter Schmeichel prowled around the Old Trafford area.
Ferguson certainly believes he has the right man for the job, and believes his organisation and composure are remarkably similar his predecessor.
“We identified him quite a while back as one we should go for. He’s young, very quick, good composure, presence and an outstanding replacement for Van der Sar.” He commented after Gary Neville’s testimonial game against Juventus.
“We were looking for the same type of qualities as Edwin, because the one great quality Edwin always had was his composure and organisational ability. David de Gea is very similar that way.” He added.
Craig Gordon, who helped frustrate those in Celtic shirts before his record British transfer fee for a goalkeeper was paid by Sunderland, will know all about the pressure being a goalkeeper with a large price tag brings.
But does that mean he is a ready-made replacement for Van der Sar? The £17 million fee is the second highest fee ever paid for a goalkeeper behind Buffon, and yet the 20-year-old is yet to win a cap for Spain.
But that won’t be a concern for Ferguson, with Pepe Reina, one of the finest keepers in the world struggling to get a game for his country while Iker Cassillas holds on the gloves. What will be a worry for Ferguson however, is the presence the Spaniard has. Van der Sar was always excellent at patrolling the area and organising his defence, but will a 20-year-old be able to corral the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic into a cohesive unit?
The benefit of his age is obviously that he could be around for a long time and more than repay the £17 million United paid for him. But Guardian journalist summed u the worries that surround De Gea when he wrote on his Twitter page: “He is very, very good but I’m not convinced he is *that* good. Yet.”
It may well be that De Gea can prove his doubters wrong and grow into a winning United side having come from a less successful Atletico Madrid team. It remains to be seen whether he is good enough, but United had a stark reminder of what they could have had in the Chmpions League earlier this season.
March 9, 2011
Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny suffered a dislocated finger in last night’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Barcelona in the Nou Camp.
The Polish keeper suffered the injury attempting to save a Dani Alves free-kick early in the first half and was replaced by Spanish keeper Manual Almunia, who pulled off a string of impressive saves in the face of an impressive Barcelona attacking performance.
Manager Arsene Wenger said he did not know how long Szczesny would be side-lined for. He said: “We have to check the tendon to see how much treatment it will need. We don’t know yet”.
The goalkeeping position has been a headache for Wenger this season, but looked to have settled on Szczesny, who played against the Spanish league leaders in the first leg game two weeks ago. Now the Frenchman will be forced to rely on Almunia after Lukasz Fabianski was recently ruled out after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier in the year, and has few options for an understudy should Alumina get injured.
An emergency loan may be an option if the situation worsens, but Wenger will be reluctant to add to his squad at such a late stage of the season and would require special permission from the Premier League. One possible option worth placing a free bet on is the recall of Vito Mannone, who is currently on loan at Hull.
His goalkeeping worries was just one of many headaches as Arsenal’s season, which threatened to end their six year trophy-less run, looks to be slowly coming undone. Having lost to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final last month, his side were dumped out of the Champions League last night by Barcelona having taken a 2-1 lead to the Nou Camp. Lionel Messi bagged a brace while Xavi rounded off a wonderful passing move to put the Gunners to the sword.
Free bets put them as underdog’s to succeed against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the next round of the FA Cup, and they currently lay three points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s side with a game in hand.
March 3, 2011
Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen is in talks with boss Tony Pulis over a contract extension to keep him at the club.
The Danish international moved to the club in 2008 and has played and established himself as their first choice keeper in their maiden season in the Premier League.
But he lost his starting place to Asmir Begovic and hasn’t played in the Premier League since October, but Pulis is keen to keep hold of the former Villa keeper. He said: We’re talking with Thomas now to try and get another contract sorted out,” Pulis told BBC Radio Stoke.
“He’s keen to get something done. We’ve spoken to his agent and the club will try and get something sorted out.”
The Potters can also call on the service of former Chelsea shot-stopper Carlo Nash.
Sorensen has played in the last four of Stoke’s FA Cup ties as he looks to fight his way back into the first team and Pulis is keen to keep the strength in depth that he currently has.
“We think we’ve got three good goalkeepers you know what goalkeepers are like, they love to stick together.” The Stoke boss commented.
“They’ve been competitive, obviously Thomas is disappointed at not playing, but the three of them are good for one another.”
Begovic looks set to keep hold of the number one jersey after an excellent performance against West Brom earlier in the week however, Gordon Banks, who played in both England and Stoke football kits, has been impressed with him so far this season.
“If he’s playing as well as this and he keeps on doing that, in two or three years’ time he will be something very special.”
“There’s some excellent goalkeepers around this country but if he keeps this standard up he’ll be up there with them, definitely.”