Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Blast from the past: Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle United (1996)

Blast from the past: Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle United (1996) - Spice Boys v Entertainers

In anticipation of Liverpool v Newcastle United's fixture for this gameweek, I am reminded of a famous match that took place between them over 15 years ago (see above).  It is often cited as the best ever match in Premier League history and inevitable decided the 1995/1996 title race.  For those that don't know Liverpool were known as the "Spice Boys" due to the player culture at the club, where as Newcastle United were known as the "Entertainers" due to their thrilling blend of attacking football that catapulted them to challenge for the title.  Unfortunately I was unable to watch the match live, but vividly remember following it on Ceefax.  The pattern of the scoring was such that it added to the legendary status of the match as follows:

Liverpool lead 1-0 (Robbie Fowler '2)
Newcastle equalised 1-1 (Les Ferdinand '10)
Newcastle lead 1-2 (David Ginola '14)
Liverpool equalised 2-2 (Robbie Fowler '55)
Newcastle lead 2-3 (Fastino Asprilla '57)
Liverpool equalised 3-3 (Stan Collymore '68)
Liverpool lead 4-3 (Stan Collymore '90 + 2)

As can be seen from the video above, Collymore scored the famous injury time winner, followed by Kevin Keegan being literally sunk in disbelief as he realised that Newcastle's title hopes had hit the rocks - after throwing away an amazingly huge 12 point lead from a few months earlier.

They don't make football like that anymore! 

Let's hope that Friday's match is at least half as entertaining.

Recommended Player for Gameweek 19

Recommended Player for Gameweek 19 - Leighton Baines (Everton)

After going 8 weeks without endorsing a Premier League defender, my recommended player for Gameweek 19 is Everton’s Leighton Baines. With the spectacular demise of Tim Cahill during this calendar year (he has scored no Premier League goals in 2011!), Baines has become the Toffees sole-star player. To put it simply, if Everton did not have Leighton Baines they would be bogged down in the relegation zone – that’s how important he is for them. During last season he bagged an impressive 5 goals and 11 assists from defence in the Premier League. Baines has scored 3 so far, but only managed 1 assist, in part due to Everton’s lack of goals. In fact, during their five Premier League matches in December they have only scored a paltry 3 goals. But this should not put you off from buying Baines as he is Everton’s joint Premier League top scorer (tied with Osman and Vellios). Moreover, his team’s upcoming January 2012 fixtures ensure that they may score more or keep more clean sheets as follows:

West Brom (A)
Bolton (H)*
Tottenham Hotspurs (A)*
Aston Villa (A)
Blackburn (H)

*Everton and Tottenham play two matches during GW 20 – also known as “Double Gameweek”

Another point of note is that Everton have agreed to re-sign Landon Donovan on loan for approximately two months from the start of January. This clever loan deal will inevitably bolster Everton’s attack and most likely increase their number of goals scored per match. This could see Baines benefiting in the form of getting more registered assists or being involved in more attacking set pieces. At 7.7 Baines is hardly a steal, but a worthy purchase due to the aforementioned reasons.

My captain for GW 19 is Robin Van Persie and vice-captain is Nani.

Transfers**: Evans and Richards (OUT) / Smalling and Baines (IN)

**Due to having a spare transfer, I may also sell Joe Allen in place of Leon Osman/Landon Donovan for a -4 points hit, but this is yet to be confirmed.

I should have my team posted up on the My GW Team tab (above) in the next 24-48 hours.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Gameweek 18 Summary

The gameweek was full of surprises with the freakishly high prevalence of draws (7 out of 10) as many big teams failed to win against lesser teams.  For instance, Chelsea could only manage a draw against Fulham as Liverpool succumbed to a poor score draw to Blackburn Rovers at Anfield.  Man City failed to score in a Premier League match for the first time this season as their match against the Baggies ended goalless.  Arsenal failed to exploit the draws of the teams above them as they were held to a 1-1 versus Wolves.  Manchester United were true to their recent form as they won 5-0 against relegation strugglers Wigan.  Spurs capitalised on the drawfest of others as they continued to hang on to the title race with a 0-2 away win against Norwich.  On the mid-table front, unsurprisingly, Everton v Sunderland and Swansea v QPR ended up as 1-1 draws.  Finally, Newcastle ended their winless streak by attaining victory against Bolton - as Stoke v Aston Villa ended 0-0.

Well, well, well - a mixed gameweek for me - I have to say folks that I missed out on two fronts for this gameweek.  Firstly my captain Van Persie failed to assist or score against Wolves at The Emirates.  Secondly my third substitute Ryan Taylor got a clean sheet and assist, but unfortunately he will not be featuring as an auto-sub - thus lost points there.  On a brighter note, I am confident that my overall GW score will be higher than the average as many oddball results meant that a majority of FPL gamers will have lost out more so than myself - At least I was able to manage a major "BALE OUT" - as Bale (2 goals), Walker (clean sheet), Adebayor (assist), Ben Arfa (goal) and Ba (goal) put me in good stead.  On a side note, the valuable points picked up from my Spurs' players also allowed me to win against my opponent in the first FPL cup match.  As for future changes to my team I am inclined to bring in Smalling to replace the injured Evans (who replaced the injured Jones only last GW!).  Moreover, I may prepare myself for Spurs and Everton's double gameweek (GW 20) by bringing in the likes of Baines and Osman.  All will be revealed soon.  Until then, stay tuned!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Great Britain and NI's Football Team at the 2012 Olympics

I recently managed England while playing FM 2012 with mixed results.  During this stint I was also eligible to manage Great Britain and Northern Ireland's football team for the London 2012 Olympics, which I did so whole heartedly.  In doing so I was able to select players from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.  Unlike the current national set up I decided to field a strong team.  As a result I benefited in having a strong depth of players to choose from that would not have been otherwise available.  It's unlikely that some of the players selected by me will play in real life.  But it goes to show what could happen if Stuart Pearce (England U21 manager / Team GB & NI manager) was to pick a strong team.  The following shows screen shots of my success at managing  them when playing FM 2012:

The selected players for the first group match

Cricket score victory over Australia in the group stages

Rout of Ivory Coast, also in the group stages

Thrilling victory over Uruguay in the Semi Finals

My First XI - Team GB - for the Final

Final Score v Mexico as Team GB win Gold!

A brief report outlining the success of Team GB


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Recommended Player for Gameweek 18

Recommended Player for Gameweek 18 - Michel Vorm (Swansea City)

My recommended player for gameweek 18 is finally a goalkeeping pick.  He’s done surprisingly well thus far in the Premier League.  It’s Swansea City’s Michel Vorm.  The Dutchman has won many fans for his match saving and winning displays.  He has defied the odds by keeping 8 clean sheets out of 17 matches – a remarkable feat for a newly promoted team and player that have never played in the Premier League.  Such has been his impact that his FPL value has increased by 1.1 from August.  At 5.1 he is still a steal of a purchase, cheaper than many top goalkeepers.  He also has two penalty saves to his name – giving credence to his surprisingly apt nickname – “The Penalty Killer”.  Vorm has acquired 22 points from him last three games.  His points tally can be furthered even more with Swansea’s next match at home to QPR.  Of course shortly after that he will face Tottenham and Arsenal – but you could always bench him for those matches, provided you have a half decent sub (I don’t!).  Vorm has also been capped by his national team and it may be difficult for Swansea to keep hold of him if a big club comes knocking in June. All this begs a question, will Vorm’s second half of the season be as good as his first?
My captain for GW 18 is Robin Van Persie and vice-captain is Nani.

Transfers*:  Jones (OUT) / Evans (IN)

My gameweek 18 team will be updated here within the next 48 hours.

*I still have one free transfer at hand as I didn't make any transfers in GW 17.

Gameweek 17 Summary

Manchester City have ended up as the team on top of the Premier League before the boxing day sales with a 0-3 victory against Stoke City, as Blackburn were consigned to 20th after suffering defeat to relegation comrades Bolton.  Newcastle suffered a disappointing 2-3 loss at home to West Brom - Interestingly they haven't won a single home match after St James' Park was renamed the Sports Direct Arena!  Manchester United won 0-5 at Craven Cottage as Arsenal fumbled to victory at Villa Park.  Liverpool could only obtain a draw against Wigan, as Tottenham and Chelsea could only manage an even scoreline against each other.  Everton won at home and kept a long awaited clean sheet, as Sunderland gained three crucial away points at Loftus Road.  Finally, Wolves and Norwich couldn't outscore one another as they drew 2-2.

The gameweek also saw two records of note achieved as Aston Villa's Marc Albrighton scored the 20,000th Premier League goal.  In addition, the legend that is Ryan Giggs continued his sensational run of scoring in every edition of the Premier League.  On the face of it I have had a fairly good gameweek as my midfielders and strikers shared a respectable 5 goals / 4 assists between them.  However, apart from Enrique (who kept a clean sheet), my defence let me down as Richards was subbed off on the 59th minute (robbing me of his clean sheet points!) and Jones hobbled off injured (again lost clean sheet points).  As a result of Jones' injury I have decided to sell him with a cheaper United defender to release funds and avoid the risk of losing a player long-term on the sidelines.  I am toying with the idea of also signing a Mata or Silva type midfielder but may not do so yet.  I will keep faith with Hatem Ben Arfa for the Bolton match in the hope that he will build on his assist and also start the match.

Aside from the above stay tuned for my recommended player for gameweek 18 article which I will post shortly.  Ciao!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Blast from the past: The Hurricanes

Blast from the past: The Hurricanes (cartoon)

I came across the following recently and thought it may bring about some nostalgic memories among a section of my readership.  For those of a certain age you may remember The Hurricanes cartoon from the mid-1990s (see above).  It was about a football club (or "soccer club" as they would call it) and for some surreal reason was voiced by American voice actors.  To be honest with you, I vaguely remember watching the cartoon on a few occasions (I think they also launched a computer game).  However the cartoon was so obscure that I can't name any of the main characters.  The cartoon's launch coincided with the rise of the English Premier League and also overlapped with USA 94.  Was it a clever ploy to capitalise on the rising popularity of football/soccer in the 1990s? or a random coincidence?  You decide.  Either way the cartoon was phased out very quickly and nothing of the football-cartoon-sort has really come about since.

When will a player's price increase or decrease in FPL?

The answer is: We don't know for sure whenFPL have their own hidden formula, most likely based (among other things) on the actual demand for a player.  This may then be further calculated via net transfers with set quotas to be met from FPL gamers' transfers to ultimately determine if a player's price will rise or fall.  For instance, if a Premier League footballer has had a really good gameweek his price is likely to rise due to subsequent demand via purchases.  Where as a popularly selected Premier League player suffering from bad form (or a long-term injury) will eventually be transferred out, have decreased demand and almost certainly see his price fall in the immediate short-term.  According to some, price increases/decreases are capped at 0.3 per gameweek.  Courtesy of my friends at FPL Dugout, I was referred to the following website (FISO Crack the Code) which can provide estimated projections* of player price increases and decreases.
*Disclaimer: They are not 100% correct and their projections should only be used as a guideline.

The benefit of knowing of price changes is crucial as it will ultimately affect your team value and your spending power.  Thus you will benefit if a player from your FPL team increases in value.  But you may also be short changed if a player from your FPL team decreases in value.  This isn't to say that a player with a declining price will not bounce back or a player rising in price will not go through a bad patch in the future.  As with all FPL decisions it's all about calculated probability, some luck, a bit of skill on your part and some hunches, etc.  Do bare the above in mind when making FPL transfers in the future.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Recommended Player for Gameweek 17

Recommended Player for Gameweek 17 - Demba Ba (Newcastle United)

Newcastle United Manager (Alan Pardew) on Demba Ba:

"He's been brilliant for us"

(Source: ESPN Soccernet)

After endorsing a risky pick in gameweek 16, I am going for a tried and tested option for this gameweek.  Thus my recommended player for gameweek 17 is a player that I already have in my team, it's Newcastle United's Demba Ba.  Ok, so he didn't score last week - but he was very unlucky against a dogged Swansea team after hitting the post and having other good chances denied by their surprisingly strong defence.  Demba Ba has been the source of many important United goals during this season.  He had a slow start (in part due to religious obligations) by not scoring in the first five gameweeks.  But he has proved his worth in a shoe-string budget Newcastle United team with 11 league goals in his last 11 league games, as well as contributing three assists.  At 7.3 he is a steal - his price increased by a rapid 0.3 in the last gameweek after being signed up by a remarkable 100,000+ FPL gamers in the space of 7 days.  His price is bound to increase even more especially with West Brom at (home) and Bolton (away) - he is Newcastle United's sole goal threat.  But be warned.  He will be absent from the Premier League for over a month as he is due to participate in the African Cup of Nations, after playing Manchester United on 4th January - so make sure you sell him after that match.

I have decided to make no transfers for this gameweek.  This is due to my strong bench and intention to obtain an extra free transfer.  My captain will be Demba Ba and my vice captain will be Robin Van Persie.

My gameweek team will be updated here in the next 24-48 hours.

Comments most welcome as always.

Gameweek 16 Summary

Man City bounced back from their defeat to Chelsea, by defeating a resurgent Arsenal 1-0 at the Etihad (and keeping a much sought after clean sheet).  Man United and Liverpool also kept clean sheets, albeit away from home, with 2-0 wins respectively.  Tottenham beat Sunderland 1-0 at White Hart Lane as Swansea held Newcastle United to a damp squib 0-0 draw.  West Brom increased the pressure on Steve Kean to be sacked, as they defeated Blackburn Rovers 1-2.  Fulham won 2-0 at Craven Cottage versus Bolton as Stoke found victory away from home.  Finally, Everton were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich; as were Chelsea (surprisingly) away to Wigan.

Ok folks, so I messed up with my recommended player for GW 16.  He didn't play a single minute of the aforementioned 0-0!  But in some ways I am glad he didn't start or do a second half cameo, due to the number of points I got from my bench.  Walker and Enrique got me points from keeping defensive clean sheets, as did Joe Allen from midfield (15 points attained from them: pre-bonus points update!).  The other two players from my first team that didn't play were Ryan Taylor (Newcastle United) and Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspurs), due to last minute injuries.  Interestingly, my goalkeeper and defenders all kept clean sheets, where as my midfielders and forwards scored/assisted 0 goals.  With all the above in mind, I have had a mixed gameweek.  It could have been a disaster with lost points on the bench or no points from the bench - but I was fortunate in having a strong bench.  I urge you all to beef up your subs' benches if you haven't already done so, as you could lose points due to squad rotation or injury - primarily due to the end of December/start of January fixture jam!  Despite Ben Arfa not playing I will still keep him in my team for WBA at (home) and Bolton (away).  My trust with him for the next two GWs is primarily due to the fact that I think Pardew needs Ben Arfa's attacking creativity and is bound to use him, subject to common sense prevailing.  I am tempted to do no transfers this GW (a rare non-move on my part), in-order to have an extra free transfer at hand.  However, I am keeping a track of David Silva, trying to find a replacement for Ryan Taylor and possibly ditching Joe Allen.

I will upload my recommended player for GW 17 shortly!  Until then, adios.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Recommended Player for Gameweek 16

Recommended Player for Gameweek 16 - Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United)

"was one of the best-rated talents in France"
Source: ESPN

I wanted to make a bold statement with my recommended player for Gameweek 16. The pick is in part influened by Aaron's quasi-reasoning (of FPL Dug Out fame), as well as my self concocted FPLH formula of:

Calculated Probability + Hunch + Player/Managerial Skill + Luck = Potential Success!

So here we go...

I would advise that you buy Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa for Gameweek 16. Granted he has just recovered from a major injury that kept him out for the most of last season and is not currently a first teamer. At the tender age of 24 he has attained an amazing five French top-flight league titles and he has two international goals to his name (from eight appearances).  His French contemporaries include Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema.  The video above compliments his proven prowess and shows why is so highly rated. However, I believe that calculated probability dictates he will get a good run of games due to Newcastle's recent slump in form and due to their favourable upcoming fixtures:

GW 16 - Swansea (H)
GW 17 - West Brom (H)
GW 18 - Bolton (A)

It should be noted that Swansea haven't won a single away game in the league this season. Where as 15th  place West Brom have been generally inconsistent and have conceded more than a goal per game whilst playing away. As for Bolton, they have only won 1 home league game out of 7 thus far and conceded goals at an abysmal rate of 2.6 at the Reebok Stadium. These figures alone are a no-brainer and indicate that you should have attack-orientated Newcastle United players in your team (for the time being).

My hunch is that Pardew will try and reiniviograte his attack, to compensate for losing his first choice defensive core (of S Taylor and Coloccini) to injury. Pardew will be fully aware of the fixtures ahead. Don't be surprised if he will ditch the conservative attack mindset of having the Ba/Best combo or having Ba as a loneish striker up front. I accept that Ben Arfa didn't play a single minute of the last league match - but it really is his time to shine. He has spent the past few gameweeks attaining crucial match fitness and his attacking abilities are such that he can play on the wing or in an attacking midfield position. Even if you are not keen in having him in your first team, he is a talented player and a cheaply priced bench warmer (5.4) - especially with the busy end-of-december fixtures appearing on the horizon. His player skill is too good to ignore. I wouldn't be surprised if he starts in all of the next three GW matches, or if he makes credible super sub appearances in at least 2 of the next 3 matches. My "manager skill" dictates that now is a good time to buy him due to the aforementioned. If he flops after the three upcoming GW fixtures it's no big deal as probability has made him a short-term favourable first team pick (or bench warmer) and you can always replace him.

Of course, having said all of the above, you will need to hope for a bit of luck if you do end up picking him in your team.

Here's to hoping for some potential success with Hatem Ben Arfa!

GW 16's Transfers: Aaron Ramsey (OUT) / Hatem Ben Arfa (IN)

Captain: Demba Ba

Vice Captain: Luis Nani

My gameweek 16 team can be found here shortly*

*I reserve the right to change my team prior to the start of the GW and will denote any team changes on the Blog's FB page.

Gameweek 15 Summary

Man City's percieved footballing logic of "it's not how many goals you concede; it's how many you score!" finally failed, as the league leaders unbeaten Premiership run came to a dramatic halt at Stamford Bridge (2-1: sensationally downed by a Frank Lampard penalty). They will rue their missed chances versus Chelsea during early spells of dominance, prior to getting a man sent off. City will now have to pick up the pieces and especially look at their leaky defence which has kept a paltry 4 clean sheets out of 15 league matches thus far (with the last one on 1st October). In other matches, Champions Leage chasers Arsenal and Liverpool won 1-0 a piece at home, while conversley lowly placed Bolton and West Brom both lost 1-2 at home. Man Utd at last found form in front of goal by scoring four past Wolves at home, as did Norwich against injury-hit Newcastle United. Swansea won with a clean sheet against Fulham and Martin O'Neill marked his managerial debut for Sunderland with a last gasp win over Blackburn. Finally, surprise title contenders Spurs suffered a mildish shock defeat away to Stoke (1-2).

As for my GW team it did fairly well, by scoring a very decent total of 79 points - my highest gameweek score thus far for the season. But it could have been so much better... Had I captained my recommended player for Gameweek 15 I could have scored an astounding 90 points! Nevertheless, taking the actual captain's points into account - four of my players hit double digits - Nani (18), Vorm (12), Ba (12), Van Persie (14* as captain). The 56 points between the four players in question were courtesey of a penalty save and five goals. I have no real individual player dissapointments with my GW team, apart from Aaron Ramsey. He should have had far more goal and assists over the last few gameweeks, had it not been for his abundance of squandered chances. In truth he is not attacking enough from my perspective (too centralish of a midfielder). To top things off his value has dropped. Thus I was scouting for a replacement from Liverpool, Newcastle United and Manchester United (who I believe have favourable upcoming fixtures). Remarkably - not only have I finally decided to sell Ramsey - but replaced him with a cheaper, attacking and bolder pick that I will reveal in my recommended player for gameweek 16. Until then stay tuned!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Champions League Fantasy Football?

I was recently asked if I played Champions League (CL) Fantasy Football.  The answer is that at this moment in time I only play FPL.  However I did set up a CL team but never changed it.  The question by a fellow reader encouraged me to log into my CL account to see how I was doing - the answer - mediocre at best.  Here's the team that I initially registered:

The above team seems decent enough on paper, but some of those players didn't play or perform during the group stages.  As a result, with the advent of the knockout stages I have made some changes to my CL team.  I doubt I will be managing my new CL team too seriously, I may not even log into that account again - but for your thoughts and benefit, here it is:

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Recommended Player for Gameweek 15‏

Recommended Player for Gameweek 15‏ - Luis Nani (Manchester United)

My recommended player for gameweek 15 is a fairly familiar face to FPL gamers, though a surprise pick of late due to sub-perfect form, it's Manchester United's Luis Nani.  Last year he was a nailed on first teamer for many a team as he accumulated an impressive 198 points (9 goals, 18 assists) from 33 matches which averaged a respectable 6 points per game.  After last season's exploits the Cape Verde-born Portugese international seemed to be the natural successor to fill Cristiano Ronaldo's void at Old Trafford.  As a result more was expected from Nani.  However, this season hasn't shown further enhancement thus far from him, with the half way mark of the league season approaching he has only scored 3 goals (none since gameweek 6)  and 5 assists.  Admittedly he did go on a good run of points scoring between GWs 3-6, yet such consistency hasn't been maintained.  This could change with Manchester United's upcoming fixtures:

GW 15 - Wolves (H)
GW 16 - QPR (A)
GW 17 - Fulham (A)
GW 18 - Wigan (H)
GW 19 - Blackburn (H)

Provided that he plays regularly and does well during this period his value could easily rise from 9.9 to a high of 10.5+.  The chances are that he will play regularly during this period, as United are behind City in the league and are currently without two other midfielders - Cleverley and Anderson.  I was contemplating replacing Ramsey for Nani, yet instead I got rid of my cheap stock filler midfielder Ferguson (4.1) so as to ensure that I have a sound bench for the busy end-of-December period.  Despite Nani's mediocre season by standards from last season, he is still remarkably listed as the fourth highest midfielder for overall points thus far.  At 9.9 he is a sub-10.0 proven midfielder that could bring you some seasonal cheer.

My Transfers: Nani (IN) / Ferguson (OUT)

Captain - Robin Van Persie

My team for GW15 can be found here.

Gameweek 14 Summary‏

During a bog standard gameweek 65 points* (*61 after the extra transfer) would be considered fairly decent-ish.  This is what I accumulated for GW 14, but a breakdown of the statistics tells a different picture altogether, which I shall divulge in later during this post.  But to sum up the results, Newcastle lost their unbeaten home record with an unlucky 0-3 defeat to Chelsea, as Blackburn attained a much needed victory over Swansea (4-2).  League leaders Man City won 5-1 at home, whilst QPR drew 1-1 with their fellow promoted comrades Norwich.  Tottenham won 3-0 at home against Bolton and neighbours Arsenal won 0-4 away versus Wigan.  Man United and Stoke both registered 0-1 away wins, as Wolves won 2-1 and Liverpool lost 0-1 to Fulham. 

Now back to the stats - I had Bale (11 points), Jones (15 points) and Van Persie (15 points) in my first team, yet despite this I unfortunately captained Adebayor who only acquired two points.  This proves all the more frustrating as Tottenham were playing a 10-man Bolton team for most of the match and Adebayor had plenty of chances to score.  Interestingly none of this week's top three points scoring Goalkeepers, Defenders, Midfielders or Strikers had a value of 10.0+, apart from Mr Consistent - Robin Van Persie.  This could be an indication that buying the most expensive player doesn't always equate to mega points during a gamweek.  In fact, a lot of sub-6.0 valued players shined - i.e. Schwarzer (4.9), Hennessey (4.5), Huth (5.6), Vukcevic (5.7), Yakubu (5.6) and Fletcher (5.7).  In spite of this, I will not indulge in panic buying of any of these cheaply priced players, based on this gameweek. 

Looking to the future, Man United, Newcastle United and Liverpool have a fairly decent run of fixtures until the end of the calenday year - It is advisable to have players from these teams during this time.  It is also important to beef up the subs' bench with the onset of busy end-of-December fixture schedule and usual bad weather which may lead to match postponements.  I have made my one transfer for the gameweek, which I shall reveal as my recommended player for gameweek 15.  Until then, goodbye.

PS - A special mention to the former Brazilian football captain Socrates, who died over the weekend - you can read/watch more about him here.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sócrates (1954-2011): One of Football's Greatest Artists

Sócrates (1954-2011): One of Football's Greatest Artists

Another gameweek, another footballing death. I have just heard the news that the former Brazilian footballer Sócrates has died at the age of 57. He played 60 times for Brazil scoring 22 goals. His goals were often spectacular as was the case in the 1982 World Cup with Brazil - that team was probably the greatest team never to win the World Cup, as is evident from the video above.  He mostly played football in Brazil apart from a stint in Italy and one-off spectacular return to football with Garforth Town in 2004.  Not only did he go to university, he qualified as a doctor, an absolute rarity in the world of football.  Sócrates will be known for his on-field talent and off-field persona that made him one of the most iconic players of his generation and a great artist to the beautiful game.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Euro 2012 Groups

Source: BBC Sport (Football)
Courtesy of BBC Sport, we have the Euro 2012 Groups for you, as displayed above.  So Group A seems easy, with any four of the teams capable of progressing to the knock out stages.  Group B seems tough, with Netherlands, Germany and Portgual promising much competition.  Group C seems hard on Ireland with the reigning and former world champions (Spain and Italy) giving them company.  Group D is mildy difficult for England as they face co-hosts Ukraine, former European Champions France and their bogey team (who they finally defeated after 38 years) Sweden.