Friday, July 30, 2010

The Worst Sporting Champions of All Time ! - Part Two!

This is the second installment in my series looking at and 'celebrating' those undeserved 'Sporting Champions' - those teams and/or individuals that were actually top of their field, yet were still pretty rubbish.

Last time it was Blackburn Rovers who felt the wrath of my written tongue, as I described their 1995 Premiership winning team as pretty crass. This time I am sticking with the sport of football as I look back to 2005 and 1982, and poor cold water on a couple of English teams 'glorious' European triumphs!

There are plenty of folk, especially in the Greater Manchester area, who insist that Liverpool's Champions League winning team of 2005 were indeed the worst European Champions of all time!
Despite their dramatic penalty shoot-out final victory over Milan, in the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul - they have a point!

You can't be picking players like Djimi 'gauche' Traoré or Harry 'supersize me' Kewell and expect to receive much in the way of props. But in their defence the Reds did at least have the decency to 'somehow' defeat several quality teams along the way such as Milan, Juventus and Chelsea and to a lesser extent Bayer Leverkusen.

However Liverpool only made it through to the knock-out phase of the competition, ahead of the 'mighty' Olympiacos of Greece on goal difference, after finishing runners-up to AS Monaco in their qualifying group.
The Anfield side did finish a semi-respectable fifth in the league during their cup-winning season.

Similar claims of beating reputable opposition on their way to European glory cannot be made for Aston Villa's 1982 campaign.

Villa that season 'officially' became the worst side ever to lift the most sought after European club trophy of the modern era!

The old adage of ' you can only beat what is put in front of you ' still sadly fails to make their triumph seem anymore than futile.

Villa won their solo European Cup (in the days when it was a straight knock-out competition) by beating the muscle of Valur Reykjavik, Dynamo Berlin, Dynamo Kiev, Anderlect and in one of the most tedious finals held in Rotterdam, the most toothless Bayern Munich side in living memory, care of a 67th minute Peter Withe goal.

Meanwhile back home, Villa defended their 1981 domestic league title with a complete lack of aplomb, by losing 15 games and ending the season in 12th place - no European champions have ever finished as low - quite a feat and in doing so simply re-emphasising their title as ' the worst side ever to lift the European Cup! '

Monday, July 26, 2010

All The Latest Transfer Gossip

With the beginning of the new domestic season rapidly approaching, unsurprisingly the gossip and rumours regarding the movement or otherwise of players to new clubs is rife. Here is the very latest.

Chelsea, Aston Villa, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Inter Milan, Arsenal, Everton, West Brom, Bristol City, Burnley, Sheffield Wednesday, Odense, Manchester United, Blackpool, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Birmingham, Tottenham, Bolton, Benfica, Celtic, Rangers, Stoke, Blackburn, Nice, West Ham, Galatasaray, Borussia Dortmund, Sunderland, Fulham, Wolves, Newcastle, Ipswich, Cardiff, St Etienne, Trabzonspor, Southampton and Marseille are all currently caught up in transfer gossip.

Is your Club involved?

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is set to reveal that Chelsea defender Ashley Cole is at the top of his wish list of new signings - The Sun

However, Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has reassured fans by insisting that Cole will not be swapping Stamford Bridge for Spain this season - The Daily Telegraph

Inter Milan's 19-year-old striker Mario Balotelli could be on his way to Manchester City in a £24m deal - Daily Mail

Midfielder Stephen Ireland is on his way out of Manchester City after a bust-up with boss Roberto Mancini on the club's trip to New York - Daily Mirror

England midfielder James Milner, who is being courted by Manchester City, will hold talks with Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill today over his future - The Guardian

Villa boss O'Neill fears he may also lose £30m-rated winger Ashley Young, who could be a target for Tottenham this summer - Daily Mirror

West Brom and Bristol City are trying to hijack Burnley's bid for Sheffield Wednesday keeper Lee Grant -

Following the disclosure that both Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King are both set to miss the start of the season, Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp may be forced to make a move for the Everton defender Phil Jagielka, who could leave for a reported £15m. Arsenal are also reportedly interested in the defender - The Independent

Blackpool and Sunderland are competing to sign Manchester United's teenage striker Danny Welbeck on a loan deal - Daily Mirror

Eric Djemba-Djemba has travelled to England to reportedly hold talks over a free transfer move to West Bromwich Albion. The Cameroon midfielder currently plays for Danish side Odense -

Birmingham City have not given up on Crystal Palace defender Nathaniel Clyne and are preparing a fourth bid for the 19-year-old, which is thought to be in the region of £2.5m - Daily Mirror

George Burley is keen to bring Premier League youngsters Nile Ranger and Ryan McGivern to Crystal Palace on loan. Newcastle United striker Ranger and Manchester City full-back McGivern are not expected to hold down regular first-team spots for their respective clubs in the top flight this season -

Southampton want to sign former England striker Darius Vassell - Football365

David James is expected to arrive in Scotland today for signing talks with Celtic. Neil Lennon wants the England goalkeeper, freed by Portsmouth last week, to replace Italy-bound Artur Boruc - Scotsman

Newcastle hope to sign Marseille winger Hatem Ben Arfa on loan - Daily Telegraph

Marcos Alonso is looking forward to an impending move to Bolton Wanderers after confirming he turned down the chance to join Benfica. Bolton boss Owen Coyle has revealed he is hoping to tie up a deal for the Real Madrid teenager in the coming days -

Rangers could make a surprise move for veteran striker Craig Beattie. The 32-year-old is likely to move on from current side Stoke. Rangers face competition from Beattie's home-town club, Blackburn Rovers, for the player - Daily Record

Wolves are closing in on a deal for St Etienne midfielder Guirane N'Daw - Football365

Nice chairman Gilbert Stellardo has admitted to holding talks with West Ham regarding Loic Remy. The Hammers are known to have made a move for the France international striker, but are yet to put a suitable bid on the table -

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce has closed the door on any prospective move by Turkish club Galatasaray for Australian midfielder Brett Emerton - Daily Mail

Borussia Dortmund and Paraguay striker Nelson Valdez has not ruled out a move to Sunderland or Fulham, but is targeting a Spanish club

West Brom striker Roman Bednar is a £2.5million target for Turkish club Trabzonspor - Football365

Bristol City manager Steve Coppell has confirmed defender Bradley Orr is set to leave the club -

Ipswich are close to completing the signing of left-back Mark Kennedy from Cardiff on a two-year deal -

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Worst Sporting Champions of All Time ! - Part One

The World Cup is over, Spain were victorious and they are the World Champions. At the end of the day whilst watching it from my humble abode here in the UK it is in my opinion that Spain were indeed worthy winners, although it was generally a disappointing tournament all-round in terms of the quality of the football played, and the embarrassment and humiliation the England players and management team bestowed upon our nation!

This article is part one of several to come celebrating those undeserved 'Sporting Champions' - those teams and/or individuals that were actually top of their field, yet were still pretty rubbish.

For this reason I shall call them 'Sport's Greatest Ever Pretenders,' starting with:
Blackburn Rovers - Premiership Champions 1995.

How did a team based around the workmanlike talents of Tim Sherwood and Jeff Kenna become champions of England?

Stick nine men behind the ball, hoof it up to Alan Shearer and hope he's not too busy flapping his pointy elbows into some poor old defender's eye socket, and in the interim point in time he whacks the ball into the back of the onion bag. That is how!

Ole, ole ole!, aesthetically pleasing, champagne football!

That season Manchester United had been handicapped by the loss of the mercurial Eric 'the karate kid' Cantona, following a now well documented altercation with a Crystal Palace fan at Selhurst Park one January evening in 1995. Without the suspended Frenchman it immediately became advantage Rovers, but they still failed to claim their prize with any assumed authority.

They stumbled over the finishing line, losing three of their final five games, the last of which gave Manchester United the chance to snatch the title with the very last kick of the season, if they could win at West Ham. Luckily for Rovers, that final kick fell to United's Achilles heel, Andy Cole's club foot - and Kenny Dalglish's men topped the table by a single point.

They danced and they sang without a hint of ignominy, as this small Lancashire club lifted the Premier League trophy, just four years after the arrival and the aid of the late Jack Walker's dynasty and his millions.

Such end-of-season shamelessness would never be seen again............that was until Chelsea insisted that it 'wasn't all about Roman's f***ing money,' when in June 2003 Ken Bates sold Chelski to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for £140 million, completing what was then the biggest-ever sale of an English football club.

He subsequently spent over £100 million on new players, as they went onto become the fifth English team to win (buy) back-to-back league championships since the Second World War in 2004/05 and 2005/06.

Friday, July 16, 2010

England's Kids Can Ease World Cup Hangover !

The very best of this country's young talent hope to put a smile back on the face of English football after the disastrous World Cup campaign under Fabio Capello.

England's Under 19 squad will be gunning for glory in the European Championships in France, beginning this Sunday with their first group stage game of the tournament against their Austrian counterparts in the Stade du Hazé, Flers (Normandy).

The UEFA European Under-19 Championship tournament consists of eight teams.
The group stage will be cut-throat - with Austria, England, France and the Netherlands drawn in Group A, and Croatia, Spain, Italy and Portugal in Group B, with the top two progressing to the semi-finals. The winners of those ties contest the final.

In the last eight runnings of this competition (since it became the Under-19's in 2002) it has paid to support the European big guns, the countries who place such pride is their youth systems. Spain have won the tournament four times, France and Italy once apiece, and with a nod to the World Cup just gone, Germany won it two years ago with a team fine tuned in the same youth system which provided the likes of Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller.

Ukraine may have looked like shock winners last time (they beat England in the final), but the system put in place by Valeri Lobanovsky all those years ago is still churning out terrific players, especially now that the country's FA is focusing on that area with a nod to Euro 2012.

But which of England manager Noel Blake's squad are good enough to make the full step to full international recognition?

The England Under-19 squad for the European Championships to be held between the 18th and the 30th July 2010 in Normandy, France is as follows:

Declan Rudd (Norwich City), James Severn (Derby County), Nathan Baker (Aston Villa), Stephen Caulker (Tottenham), Matthew Briggs (Fulham), Reece Brown (Manchester United), Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace, right), Thomas Cruise (Arsenal), Josh Thompson (Celtic); John Bostock, Dean Parrett, Andros Townsend (all Tottenham), Matthew James (Manchester United), Jacob Mellis (Chelsea), Matthew Phillips (Wycombe); Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa), Ryan Donaldson (Newcastle United), Frank Nouble (West Ham).

England have improved in leaps and bounds at this level, and won the Euro Under-17s earlier in the year. However I think that the draw has not done them any favours, and that they'll find at least two of the other sides in their group too good. The Netherlands look rock solid to make it through as group winners, and local support may benefit the French, with Austria also strong contenders.
I'll take Spain to get it right in Group B, and Croatia to more than likely follow them through.

If your having a bet be warned - the top teams are so tightly matched that any of them could win it, which should make for a superb spectacle.

I am going to have a small wager on the Netherlands to go one step further than their senior team did this month, and lift the trophy on the 30th July. My outside tip for glory would lie with the Croatians.

European U19 Championships 2010 - England's Group A fixtures/results/scorers:

Sun 18st July - England U19's 3-2 Austria U19's

England goalscorers: Nouble (13') & (29'), Cruise (53')
England team: Rudd, Briggs (Clyne 54'), James (C), Caulker (Thompson 86'), Baker, Parrett, Delfouneso, Nouble, Bostock (Mellis 77'), Cruise, Brown.
Substitutes not used: Nicholls (GK), Phillips, Noble, Donaldson.

Wed 21st July - England U19's 0-1 The Netherlands U19's

England team: Rudd, Clyne, James (C), Caulker, Baker, Mellis (Donaldson 83'), Parrett, Delfouneso, Nouble, Brown, Phillips (Noble 72').
Substitutes not used: Nicholls (GK), Briggs, Bostock, Cruise, Thompson.

Sat 24th July - England U19's 1-1 France U19's

England goalscorer: Phillips 90'+ 3'
England team: Rudd, Clyne, James (C), Caulker, Mellis (Bostock 78'), Parrett (Noble 74'), Delfouneso, Nouble, Cruise, Thompson, Donaldson (Phillips 76').
Substitutes not used: Nicholls (GK), Briggs, Baker, Brown.

Group A

1 France 7 pts
2 England 4 pts
3 Austria 3 pts
4 Netherlands 3pts

France and England qualify for the semi-finals.

Wed 27th July: Semi-Final: Spain U19's 3-1 England U19's

England goalscorer: Bostock 37'
England team: Rudd, Clyne, James (C), Caulker, Baker (Bostock 18'), Mellis (Noble 59'), Delfouneso, Nouble, Cruise, Thompson, Donaldson (Phillips 71').
Substitutes not used: Nicholls (GK), Brown, Malone.

All the games can be seen on Eurosport.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

C.P.F.C Pre-Season 2010 - Fixtures, Results and Scorers.

Tue 13th July: Crawley 1-0 Crystal Palace, Broadfield Stadium, Brighton Road, Crawley.

Palace team: Speroni, Wright, Remie (Brunno 46), McCarthy, Barrett, Djilali (Zaha 46), Danns (Pinney 85), N'Diaye (Holness 73), Dorman (Cadogan 69), Lee (Andrew 46), Morgan (Bridcutt 64).

Wed 14th July: Sutton United 2-1 Crystal Palace XI, The Borough Sports Ground, Sutton.
Palace goalscorer: Pinney

Palace team: Price, Parsons, Holland, Nnamani, Mareval (Pringle 46), Cadogan (Williamson-Murrell 85), Bridcutt (Wynter 85), Holness (Caprice 85), Djilali (Williams 75), Zaha (Sekajja 46), Pinney. Sub not used: Mann.

Sat 17th July: Wycombe Wanderers U18's 2-0 Crystal Palace U18's, Bisham Abbey, Berkshire.

Sat 17th July: Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea, Selhurst Park, SE25.

Palace team: Julian Speroni, 2. David Wright, 3. Alexsander Radosavlijevic, 4. Adam Barrett, 5. Paddy McCarthy (c), 6. Anthony Ouasafane, 7. Neil Danns, 8. Davide Baiocco, 9. Alan Lee, 10. Darren Ambrose, 11. Andy Dorman. Subs: 13 Lewis Price, 14. Kieron Cadogan, 15. Claude Davis, 16. Liam Bridcutt, 17. Dean Morgan, 18. Alassane N'Diaye, 19. Wilfred Zaha, 20. Sean Scannell

Wed 21st July: Dorchester Town 3-3 Crystal Palace, The Avenue Stadium, Dorchester.
Palace goalscorers: Ambrose (2), Zaha.

Palace team: Speroni (Price, 46), N'Diaye (Holland, 70), Barratt (Davis, 46), McCarthy, Branco, Ambrose, Danns, Dorman (Jerry, 64), Ty (Djilali, 75), Andrew (Cadogan, 64), Lee (Zaha, 46)

Fri 23rd July: Exeter City 0-2 Crystal Palace, at Tiverton Town FC, Tiverton, Devon.
Palace goalscorers: Ambrose (2).

Palace team: Speroni, Holland, McCarthy, Davis (N'Diaye 72), Branco (Taianan HT), Trialist, Danns, Dorman (Lee 52), Ambrose (Ani 78), Zaha (Cadogan 52), Andrew (Scannell 67), Dijaili.

Tues 27th July: Bromley 0-0 Crystal Palace, at Hayes Lane, Bromley.

Palace team: Price, Holness (Nnamani 46), Capaldi (Kasim 46), Davis, McCarthy (Barrett 46), Sumulikoski, Danns (Lee 46), Fuseini, Andrew (Cadogan 64), Ambrose (Djilali 46), Dorman (Zaha 46)

Fri 30th July: Brentford 1-1 Crystal Palace, at Griffin Park, Brentford.
Palace goalscorer: Cadogan.

Palace team: Speroni, Clyne, Wright,(Capaldi 65), Davis (Holland 75), Shuminesse, Barrett, Ambrose, Dorman (Danns 70), Andrew, (Lee 46), Cadogan, Djilali (Zaha 46)
Subs not used: Kasim, Price, Holness, Nnmani, Pinney.

Wed 4th Aug: Dulwich Hamlet 0-2 Crystal Palace XI, at Champion Hill Stadium, London SE22 8BD
Palace goalscorers: Sekajja, Williamson-Murrel

Palace team: Fotheringham, Williams ('Nico' 46), Nnamani, Holland (C), Parsons, Holness, Sekajja (Williamson-Murrell 65), Kasim, Pinney, N'Diaye, Djilali
Subs not used: Winter, Mann, Daniel, Caprice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All The Latest Transfer Gossip

The World Cup is finally over, now it's time to time to take a breather from all the football action on the television, the radio commentary, the phone-in shows, the assessment of every game and the tournament in general, the numerous pages of analytical comment in every newspaper, the tournament facts and stats, and so on.........

Don't you believe it!

The domestic season is underway in three weeks time, the pre-season friendlies are in full swing as we speak and as for the the transfer market, well it seems to be in a state of frenzy as clubs try to lure players to pastures new, by whatever means necessary.

Real Madrid, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, Stuttgart, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, AC Milan, Monaco, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sunderland, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, Marseille, Fenerbahce, Bolton, Celtic, Rangers, Everton, Aston Villa, Wolfsburg, Fiorentina, Lecce, Burnley, Preston, Coventry, Stoke, Fulham, Lens, Hull, West Brom, Middlesbrough, Gillingham and Norwich are all currently caught up in transfer gossip.

Is your Club involved?

Here is a round up:

Iker Casillas claims the signs 'look good' that Chelsea full-back Ashley Cole will join Real Madrid this summer.
Cole has been linked with a £30million switch to the Santiago Bernabeu after former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho took over as Real coach.
Chelsea are likely to try and hang on to Cole, but Real keeper Casillas believes his club are making progress in their bid to sign the left-back - The Sun

Chelsea will challenge Manchester United and Manchester City to sign Italian striker Mario Balotelli from Inter Milan but they will have to outbid United, who are willing to pay £28m - £2m more than City have offered for the 19-year-old - Daily Star

Chelsea have pulled out of the race to sign Werder Bremen's Mesut Ozil, 21, with the Stamford Bridge outfit instead keen on fellow German midfielder Sami Khedira, 23, who plays for Stuttgart - The Sun

Robinho and Craig Bellamy are expected to lead an £80m exodus from Manchester City this summer, with Brazilian forward Robinho's likely destination being AC Milan following his spell on loan at Santos. Tottenham are interested in Wales striker Bellamy and his City team-mate, defender Micah Richards - The Times

Stephen Ireland is another City player heading for the exit door, with speculation that Ireland, who confirmed his desire to leave at the end of last season, is valued at £15 million and Everton and Aston Villa are both considering a move for him. The Daily Telegraph

Meanwhile Manchester City may abort their proposed move for Edin Dzeko unless Wolfsburg lower their financial demands and accept that the most powerful spenders in English football are not prepared to pay around £45m for the Bosnian striker - The Guardian

Voetbal International details how AC Milan striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has been attracting interest from Sevilla, Marseille and Fenerbahce. After returning from holiday, Huntelaar will speak with the club to determine their plans for him, but it appears very likely he will leave San Siro -

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is planning a £6m bid for Monaco's 25-year-old South Korean forward Park Chu-Young - The Sun

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is eager to land Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer after having had an initial offer in the region of £2m rejected. An improved bid in the region of £3million will be forthcoming but given Schwarzer's advancing years, he turns 38 in October, Wenger does not intend to be held to ransom - The Telegraph.

Liverpool reserve striker Krisztian Nemeth is wanted by Lecce in a £1million deal.

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish is ready to launch an £8m bid to lure Liverpool's Dutch forward Ryan Babel to St Andrew's - Daily Star

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has has made a second bid to sign Paraguay striker Nelson Valdez from Borussia Dortmund - Daily Mirror

Steve Bruce has dismissed reports linking Lee Cattermole with a move away from Sunderland and says he has "no intention" of letting him go. Bruce has already lost Cattermole's midfield partner Lorik Cana after a shock exit to Galatasaray for £5million, and insisted that he is not about to lose another one of his key players -

Bolton boss Owen Coyle is set to sign Real Madrid left-back Marcos Alonso in a £2.2m deal, with the club ready to fly him straight to the club's training camp in the United States - Daily Mirror

Poland goalkeeper Artur Boruc wants a pay off of about £700,000 from Celtic before completing a £3m transfer to Fiorentina - Daily Record

Celtic will sign a replacement for goalkeeper Artur Boruc and have sounded out Coventry about Keiren Westwood and Preston over Andy Lonergan - Daily Express

Rangers have opened talks with Burnley about signing £1.5m-rated midfielder Chris Eagles - Daily Express

Portsmouth administrator Andrew Andronikou is desperate to get Tal Ben-Haim's crippling salary off the club's wage bill and has revealed the defender could follow Avram Grant to West Ham.

Rangers midfielder Kevin Thomson will travel to Middlesbrough today for signing talks after personal issues delayed his trip south - Daily Record

Stoke boss Tony Pulis has quashed reports that an exchange deal with Middlesbrough involving Liam Lawrence and Gary O'Neil is set to take place. "I haven't spoken to Gordon (Strachan, Middlesbrough boss) about this, so I don't know where it has come from," Pulis told the Stoke Sentinel -

Gillingham boss Andy Hessenthaler has confirmed there have been developments regarding Simeon Jackson's future as the striker closes on a move to Norwich City -

Lens are targeting West Brom's Abdoulaye Meite in a deal believed to be in the region of £400,000 - Daily Mail

Hull are keen on signing Martyn Wagner from Sunderland - Daily Mail

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Congratulations to Spain - FIFA 2010 World Cup Winners

Spanish skipper Iker Casillas lifts the FIFA World Cup trophy aloft as he celebrates his sides 1-0 extra-time victory over the Netherlands in Johannesburg tonight.

Andres Iniesta (right) struck a dramatic winner four minutes from the end of extra time to give Spain World Cup glory for the first time, and in turn condem the Netherlands to their third defeat in a final, following defeats to the host nations in 1974 and 1978.
European 2008 champions Spain deserved their victory, after gradually taking a grip on a tense and bad-tempered contest which saw referee Howard Webb produce 14 yellow cards, including the dismissal of Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga, sent off for a second bookable offence, seven minutes before Iniesta drilled home the only goal of the game.


01 Casillas Capt.
03 Pique
05 Puyol (booked)
11 Capdevila (booked)
15 Sergio Ramos (booked)
06 Iniesta (booked)
08 Xavi (booked)
14 Alonso (Fabregas, 87)
16 Busquets
07 Villa (Torres, 105)
18 Pedrito (G Jesus Navas, 60)

01 Stekelenburg
02 Van Der Wiel (booked)
03 Heitinga (sent-off)
04 Mathijsen (booked)
05 Van Bronckhorst Capt. (booked) (Braafheid, 105)
06 Van Bommel (booked)
08 De Jong (booked) (Van der Vaart, 99)
10 Sneijder
07 Kuyt (Elia, 70)
09 Van Persie (booked)
11 Robben (booked)

Venue: Soccer City, Johannesburg, Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 84,490

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Two Classic World Cup Underachievers in Final Clash - Betting News with Betfred

After all the hype about the South American teams impressing at the World Cup, it comes down to two European sides to battle it out in the 2010 World Cup Final.

The Netherlands looked impressive in beating a lacklustre Uruguay in their semi-final, the 3-2 scoreline making the game seem a lot tighter than it actually was.

As for Spain, despite all their intricate play and crisp passing, it took a bullet header from a set-piece by 'the perm haired old rocker' Carlos Puyol to book their place in Sunday's final.

It was a narrow win over a well-drilled German side, and perhaps the most surprising statistic was that Spain striker David Villa did not get on the score sheet.

Now, the Dutch are 11/4 outsiders in the World Cup Final betting with Betfred, while their Iberian opponents are favourites at 11/10.

In the final it will be a battle for the Golden Boot as Villa and Wesley Sneijder are both level on five goals apiece - with Villa priced at 4/5 to finish the tournament as top goal scorer compared to 9/4 for Sneijder.

While Holland look reliant on Sneijder and Arjen Robben to provide the pace, skill and the goals, it is clear the likes of Mark van Bommel, John Heitinga and Dirk Kuyt are the Dutch work horses and ball winners.

Spain showed against Germany how effective their midfield is. Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Alonso all look comfortable knocking the ball around, and the entire side seem able to play a sharp and direct passing game. With Villa up front they also look to have the best striker in the entire competition, and the betting odds suggest he is likely to find the net again.

Last night, Pedro impressed when coming off the bench, and he can offer a lot to the side if he is called upon in the final. However, despite a relatively poor tournament thus far it would be foolish for any football fan to write off the dangers of Fernando Torres, who is 6/1 to score first in the final.

Whatever happens, a new name will be on the trophy after the two great underachievers of world football collide in what should be an open game between two teams who both play attractive, free-flowing and attacking football.

My Tip Of The Weekend:

Both sides look impressive going forward, so 6/4 for there to be more than 2.5 goals in the final looks like good value.

World Cup Final 2010: The Netherlands v Spain - Sunday 11th July, kick-off 7.30pm GMT

By Drew Swainston
(Guest writer from Betfred on behalf of Beer Footy and Birds!)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

All The Latest Transfer Gossip

The World Cup may be reaching its climax, but with the domestic football seasons both at home and abroad due to kick-off in around a month's time, clubs are busy wheeling and dealing in the transfer market, as they step up their search for new additions and/or replacements, in an attempt to strengthen their squads for the forthcoming season.

Arsenal, Werder Bremen, Manchester City, Cologne, FC Twente, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Stuttgart, Inter Milan, Tottenham, Sunderland, AC Milan, Barcelona, Juventus, West Ham, Fulham, Valencia, Celtic, Preston, Leeds, Scunthorpe, Everton, Blackburn, Bolton, West Brom, Lyon, Wigan, Birmingham City and Crystal Palace are all currently caught up in transfer gossip.

Is your Club involved?

Here is a round up:

Arsenal are ready to pay £20m for German playmaker Mesut Ozil, having trailed the 21-year-old for months. Ozil has one year left on his contract at Werder Bremen - Daily Star

Manchester City have been linked with a £16.5m move for Cologne's Germany forward Lukas Podolski - Daily Mail

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is lining up a £13m move for FC Twente winger Bryan Ruiz - Daily Mirror

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is set to lock horns with his old club Chelsea and Manchester United over securing the services of Germany World Cup star Sami Khedira. The 23-year-old is currently contracted to Stuttgart until 2011 -

Inter Milan coach Rafael Benitez is ready to challenge Tottenham for the signature of Manchester City defender Micah Richards - The Times

Manchester United have made enquiries about signing French striker Karim Benzema from Real Madrid - Daily Mirror

Sunderland are exploring the possibility of a season-long loan deal for Ghana's young striker Dominic Adiyiah, who is at AC Milan - Daily Mail

West Ham are expecting a bid from Aston Villa for Scott Parker. The Hammers are bracing themselves for the move when Villa midfielder James Milner makes his expected £25m switch to Manchester City - The Sun

Manchester United are braced for a raid from Barcelona and Juventus for their left-back Patrice Evra - Daily Mail

Leeds United have confirmed they have completed the signing of 23-year-old Preston - defender Neill Collins on a three-year deal -

Alex McLeish is desperate to sign Wigan's £15-million-rated Charles N'Zogbia. The Birmingham City boss could also resurrect his interest in Sunderland midfielder Kieran Richardson, after initially trying to sign the midfielder for £6 million in January - The Times

Fulham are thought to be in negotiations to sign Portuguese defender Miguel from Valencia. The Londoners are believed to want to sign the 30-year-old on a four-year deal for a fee in the region of 2million euros (around £1.66m) -

West Brom have confirmed their interest in signing striker Frederic Piquionne. The 31-year-old player spent the 2009-2010 campaign on loan at Portsmouth but has since returned to Lyon. However Albion face competition from West Ham for his signature -

Everton and Blackburn are keeping tabs on Bolton ace Matt Taylor. The 28-year-old's future at Bolton looks uncertain following the arrival of Martin Petrov from Manchester City -

Celtic have opened talks with Scunthorpe over a £2m deal for striker Gary Hooper - Scottish Daily Mail

Crystal Palace manager George Burley has completed a double swoop by landing Adam Barrett and Andy Dorman on free transfers.
Centre-half Barrett, 31, left Southend this summer and has put pen to paper on a two-year contract with the Eagles. Midfielder Dorman, 28, was also out of contract after leaving St Mirren has agreed a three-year deal -

Monday, July 05, 2010

The 'World Cup Twidget' Courtesy of Casino Online

Many thanks from Beer Footy and Birds to the people at Casino Online in association with for providing me with their excellent World Cup gadget for the 2010 tournament.
For those new to this site it can be found in the top left hand corner of my blog.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Argentina set for more World Cup glory - World Cup Betting News with Betfred


You can be sure there will be a huge flood of support across England for Argentina on Saturday as they pray that Diego Maradona's side thrash Germany.

After the Germans swept past England in the last round, fans across the country will be keeping their fingers crossed that Lionel Messi and co. can stop the old enemy from progressing any further. Argentina are priced at World Cup odds of 11/8 to win their quarter-final clash in 90 minutes on Saturday in Cape Town.

One man determined to step up and smack in some goals against the Germans is Carlos Tevez, a striker revered in England for his full-blooded displays in the Premier League for West Ham, and for both of the red and blue halves of Manchester.

The City striker scored two goals, one controversial and one sensational, in the last round and is likely to line-up with Messi and Gonzalo Higuain in an attacking Argentinean line-up.

The form that Tevez and Higuain have shown so far mean they sit at 11/4 and 14/1 respectively to win the World Cup Golden Boot and the 26-year-old Manchester City striker has said that he will "give everything" on Saturday in Cape Town to help his side progress.

"Why not think I can be a champion? Every night, I do," Tevez went on to tell the Clarin Media Group, publishers of the largest newspaper in Argentina.
"I have a hunger for glory so great that I cannot imagine the great sadness there would be without the cup. I could not bear to lose on Saturday."

Tevez certainly sounds like a man who is going to give everything to succeed at the weekend and is 11/2 to score the first goal with Betfred.

However, Messi has done everything but score at the World Cup so far and 4/1 that his luck changes and he scores first could be seen as a good World Cup bet by many football fans.

My Tip Of The Weekend:

I expect it to be a very close game. Four years ago a quarter-final between them went to penalties - and there is every likelihood of it going to extra time this year, so I'm backing Argentina to win over 120 minutes at 8/1.

World Cup 2010 Quarter-Final: Argentina v Germany - Saturday 3rd July, kick-off 3pm GMT

By Drew Swainston
(Guest writer from Betfred on behalf of Beer Footy and Birds!)