Sunday, December 23, 2012

Real Madrid draw Manchester United as Champions League draw takes place

The one team Man Utd wanted to avoid being drawn against was the current La Liga champions Real Madrid, unfortunately it was not there lucky day.

Former United star Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford for first time since his 2009 £80m move from Man Utd to Real Madrid.It will be a welcome homecoming for the star, however Man Utd will be hopeful they can end it with misery for Ronaldo by knocking him and his team out of the Champions League. Although Madrid are considered favourites in these fixtures they will be worried too as they will have to contain the likes of Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney for 180 minutes, not an easy thing to do.

Arsenal have been drawn against last seasons losing finalists Bayern Munich, a tip from many to go all the way and win the trophy this year. With Arsenal playing far below the standards of their opposition this could be an embarrassing couple of games for them, however a surprise could be on the cards if Arsenal are able to implement an effective game-plan.

Celtic face Juventus and are considered a huge underdog to progress. Although the draw could of been kinder to the Scottish champions, Lennon's side will be happy to of missed out on facing bigger and tougher opposition that the draw could of seen them face. Although Juventus should have no troubles in winning these fixtures, Celtic aren't to be taken lightly as they have beaten Barcelona in the group stages and proven their credibility when it comes to taking on Europe's best.

This years tournament favourites Barcelona take on AC Milan. Spanish side Valencia face moneybags Paris St Germain.Tournament Dark horses Borussia Dortmund have been drawn against Shakhtar Donetsk, while Porto face Malaga and Galatasaray will play Schalke.The ties will commence in February and March, with each team having one fixture at home and away.

Champions League round of 16 draw:

Galatasaray v FC Schalke
Celtic v Juventus
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund
AC Milan v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Manchester United
Valencia v Paris St Germain
FC Porto v Malaga
Some random text here for testing.

What ever happened to Michael Owen?

 Michael Owen is a name that will forever linger in my heart,  because he was one of the first soccer phenom's that took the world by storm. Before there was Messi, Ronaldo, and Rooney there was Michael Owen. Pundits will argue wether or not he truly deserved that status, and wether it was warranted or not, but almost everyone can agree that he was a world class player when he was just a teenager. Michael Owen became a pro at 17 and by age 18 he was already the top goal scorer in the Premier League with 18 while playing for Liverpool. It's easy to forget now what a prodigy Michael Owen really was, but many die-hards fans, including myself will always remember Owen. There was  something breathtaking about Michael Owen, his dazzling display of pace and movement made him a dangerous striker. He played with a fluidness in his game that was only seen in older players. Combined with his movie star looks, and an engaging personality it was hard not to be drawn to him. Everyone agreed at that time that Owen was on his way to becoming the next global superstar, someone that can become a star on and off the field. Michael Owen's  star continued to rise during the 1998 World Cup capped of by his incredible goal against Argentina that showed the world that he can compete on the biggest stage. After his magnificent run at the 1998 World Cup, Michael Owen continued to display the skills that made him a world class player. Perhaps, his greatest season came in 2001/2002 when he scored 20 goals, his highest for a season, and dominated defenders unlike anyone in the Premier League. He was also named Fifa's player of the year  in 2001 and European player of the year. That was the pinnacle of Owen's career, as he would never reach those heights ever again. After Michael Owen was injured in the 2002 World Cup, he was never the same. Injuries would begin to take their toll even before that, but to me Owen was never the same player after that World Cup. It was a sad turn of events for a player that was destined to become not only an all-time great, but someone along the lines of Maradona, or Pele. I personally feel that Michael Owen began to lose himself when he transferred to Real Madrid in 2004. No longer was he the joyful boy with the wide grin looking to make a splash. He was now stuck on a star driven team, that mostly rode him on the bench. He was gone within a year. Eventually Michael Owen became an injury riddled star that only sporadically showed flashes of the player he once was. It's hard to say what kind of player Owen could of become, because we will never know. Michael Owen is a figure that seems to divide opinion, to some he is somebody that was given too much, too soon, and to others he was a legend, even at the tender age of 18. When I think of Michael Owen, I always remember the early part of his career where he captured everyone's imagination, and later someone who was never able to reach his true potential. Regardless, of what happened, I will remember Michael Owen for what he brought to the table during that early glorious run.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Are Dortmund capable of winning the Champions League?

When you were making your Champions League winners in the summer, not many of you would have picked Borussia Dortmund, however the German Champions are proving everyone wrong.

Their coach Jürgen Klopp has been a hero for their fans as he has led them to two league titles in a row, last years sensational cup win and now he believes his talented team can add the most exciting trophy in the world, the Champions League.

Not only have Dortmund recently had great success they have played brilliant football, gained many new fans and produced sensational talent. With all of these positives Dortmund were able to top their group that consisted of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Ajax, teams that all won their respective leagues the year before.

Klopp's team won the league with a record amount of points (81) last year. However they have been inconsistent in domestic games this season as they've concentrated on the Champions League and they have certainly been a success on that front so far. With European success in sight, Dortmund fans are starting to believe and no team will want them in the upcoming Champions League knockout round draw.

Dortmund's success comes as a surprise as they haven't spent tons of money to be the team they are, one destined for the top. However they have produced their own talent and worked on developing young stars.Their good record with talent has allowed them to compete even after selling talents Nuri Sahin and Shinji Kagawa in recent years.

At the moment the team is littered with stars such as Mario Götze, Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Mat Hummels. And that's not it there are many other great players that would vastly improve many of Europe's elite teams. These four superstars have been linked with many clubs worldwide and Dortmund will be looking to hold on to their established talents, however if all fails It's unlikely they'll change their successful philosophy and with that will most likely see more future success and superstars being produced.

With all of the positives listed prior, many teams will be shaking in their boots at the prospect of a showdown with Dortmund and they'll be hoping the Domestic Dortmund turn up. If Dortmund produce their group stage form then beware Europe, a new footballing King is about to overshadow the best teams in the world.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Is Michu one of the best ever EPL signings?

  Michu celebrates his first goal against Arsenal, with Angel Rangel showing his delight in the background

While clubs like Arsenal and players like Fernando Torres are struggling and gaining all the headlines there's a team and a player further up north who are bettering every ones expectations, in Swansea.

The Welsh football team have been a revelation in their first 18 months in the Premier League and their signings have proved very good at this level. One signing in particular has impressed, Michu from Rayo Vallecano.

The 26 year old Spaniard spent the 2011/12 season at top Spanish division club Rayo Vallecano in which he scored 15 goals in 37 games. The Spanish league is known as one of the best in the world and these statistics were not talked about much before he joined Swansea. Now the talent is producing similar performances in England.

The Spanish talent is already favourite to be the bargain buy of the season for the English Premier League as he has scored 10 goals in 15 games. Michu has played every game for Swansea and scored two late goals to beat Arsenal at the Emirates recently. With match-winning performances like these many are questioning how long Swansea can hold on to their new found talent. Many people are suggesting Swansea must resist these temptations and hold on to their new prized asset.

It remains to be seen how far Michu's talent can take him in the EPL but one thing for sure is that at 2M he is one of the best and cheapest signings in Premier League history.