Soccerway - Live scores, results, fixtures, tables

The truth behind Puskás Akadémia FC - How Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán stole a legend, built a stadium in his backyard and guided his team to Europe

The 2019/2020 season of the Hungary’s National Football League (NB1) – being one of the first leagues to restart play - came to an end on 27 June. If a casual observer (for whatever reason) decides to check out the final standings, he would be not surprised at the first two positions: record-champion Ferencváros defended their title, while regional powerhouse Fehérvár (Videoton) came in second. However, the third place team, Puskás Akadémia FC might seem unusual and one could think that there is a story behind that. Is there a team named after Ferenc Puskás? Did some academy youths make an incredible run for the Europa League qualification? Well, the observer is right, there is a story behind all this, but it’s absolutely not a fun story. It’s a story about how one powerful man’s obsession with football stole a legend, misused state funds and killed the spirit of Hungarian football. (Warning: this is a long story, feel free to scroll down for a tl;dr. Also, I strongly advise checking out the links, those images are worth seeing).
Naturally, political influence in football has been present ever since the dawn of the sport and we know of numerous state leaders who felt confident enough to use their influence to ensure the successful development of their favored clubs – Caucescu’s FC Olt Scornicesti and Erdogan’s Basaksehir are well-known examples of such attempts. However, I fear that very few of the readers are aware of the fact that Puskás Akadémia FC is nothing but Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s grandiose project for establishing his hometown’s club as one of the country’s top teams. Considering that Orbán managed to achieve this goal using state funds in an EU member democracy in the 2000s, one might even say that it might be one of the most impressive attempts of cheating your way through Football Manager in real life. Now that Puskás Akadémia FC escaped the desolate football scene of Hungary and is getting ready for the European takeover, I feel that it’s high time to tell its true story.

Part 1: Part time striker, part time PM

Our story begins in 1999 when the 36-year-old striker Viktor Orbán (recently elected as the country’s Prime Minister) was signed by the sixth-tier side of Felcsút FC residing in rural Fejér County. It might sound surprising that an active politician would consider such a side job, but given that Orbán has been playing competitive low-level football throughout his whole life and has always been known as a keen football enthusiast, people seemed to be okay with his choice for a hobby. Orbán spent most of his childhood in the village of Felcsút (population: 1,800), so it seemed only natural that he would join the team after one of his old-time acquaintances became team president there.
Orbán’s arrival to the club seemed to work like a charm as Felcsút FC immediately earned a promotion to the fifth league. The Prime Minister’s busy program did not allow him to attend every training session and game but Orbán did make an effort to contribute as much as possible on the field – there is a report of a government meeting being postponed as Orbán was unavailable due to attending Felcsút FC’s spring training camp. The 2001/2002 season brought another breakthrough for the side as Felcsút was promoted to the national level of the football pyramid after being crowned the champion of Fejér County. Sadly enough for Orbán, he suffered a defeat on another pitch – his party lost the 2002 election and Orbán was forced to move to an opposition role.
No matter what happened on the political playing field, Orbán would not abandon his club. Just before the 2002 elections, Felcsút was surprisingly appointed as one of the regional youth development centers by the Hungarian FA. Orbán continued contributing on the field as well (he had more spare time after all) but his off-the-field efforts provided much more value for the team as he used his political influence to convince right-wing businessmen that they should definitely get sponsorship deals done with the fourth-division village team.
Club management was able to transform the influx of funds into on-field success: Felcsút FC was promoted to the third division in 2004 and achieved promotion to the second division in 2005. Although these new horizons required a skill level that an aging ex-PM is not likely to possess, Orbán regularly played as a late game sub and even appeared in cup games against actual professional opponents. The now-42-year old Orbán did not want to face the challenge of the second division, so he retired in 2005 – but this did not stop him from temping as an assistant coach when the head coach was sacked in the middle of the 2005-2006 season.
Success on the playing field did not translate to political success: Orbán lost the elections once again in 2006. However, this was only a temporary loss: the ruling party committed blunder after blunder and by early 2007 it became absolutely obvious that Orbán would be able return to power in 2010. Now confident in his political future, Orbán opted for the acceleration of football development in Felcsút – by late 2007 he took over the presidency of the club to take matters in his own hands. Sponsors seeking to gain favor with the soon-to-be PM were swarming Felcsút FC, so the club was able to stand very strong in an era where financial stability was a very rare sight in the Hungarian football scene, accumulating three medals (but no promotion) between 2007 and 2009.
On the other hand, Orbán realized the value of youth development as well, and started a local foundation for this purpose back in 2004 that gathered funds for the establishment a boarding school-like football academy. The academy opened its doors in September 2006 (only the second of such institutions in the country) and Orbán immediately took upon the challenge of finding an appropriate name for the academy.
He went on to visit the now very sick Ferenc Puskás in the hospital to discuss using his name, but as Puskás’ medical situation was deteriorating rapidly, communication attempts were futile. Luckily enough Puskás’ wife (and soon to be widow) was able to act on his incapable husband’s behalf and approved the naming deal in a contract. According to the statement, naming rights were granted without compensation, as “Puskás would have certainly loved what’s happening down in Felcsút”. However, there was much more to the contract: Puskás’ trademark was handed to a sports journalist friend of Orbán (György Szöllősi, also acting communications director of the academy) who promised a hefty annual return for the family (and also a 45% share of the revenue for himself). Ferenc Puskás eventually died on 17 November 2006 and on 26 November 2006 the football academy was named after him: Puskás Academy was born.
Orbán shared his vision of the whole organization after the opening ceremony: “It’s unreasonable to think that Felcsút should have a team in the top division. We should not flatter ourselves, our players and our supporters with this dream. Our long term ambition is the creation of a stable second division team that excels in youth development and provides opportunity for the talents of the future.” Let’s leave that there.

Part 2: No stadium left behind

Orbán became PM once again in April 2010 after a landslide victory that pretty much granted him unlimited power. He chased lots of political agendas but one of his policies was rock solid: he would revive sports (and especially football) that was left to bleed out by the previous governments. The football situation in 2010 was quite dire: while the national team has actually made some progress in the recent years and has reached the 42nd position in the world rankings, football infrastructure was in a catastrophic state. Teams were playing in rusty stadiums built in the communist era, club finances were a mess, youth teams couldn’t find training grounds and the league was plagued by violent fan groups and lackluster attendance figures (3100 average spectators per game in the 2009/2010 season).
Orbán – aided by the FA backed by business actors very interested in making him happy – saw the future in the total rebuild of the football infrastructure. Vast amounts of state development funds were invested into the football construction industry that warmly welcomed corruption, cost escalation and shady procurement deals. In the end, money triumphed: over the last decade, new stadiums sprung out from nothing all over the country, dozens of new academies opened and pitches for youth development appeared on practically every corner. The final piece of the stadium renovation program was the completion of the new national stadium, Puskás Aréna in 2019 (estimated cost: 575 million EUR). Orbán commemorated this historic moment with a celebratory video on his social media that features a majestic shot of Orbán modestly kicking a CGI ball from his office to the new stadium.
Obviously, Orbán understood that infrastructure alone won’t suffice. He believed in the idea that successful clubs are the cornerstone of a strong national side as these clubs would compete in a high quality national league (and in international tournaments) that would require a constant influx of youth players developed by the clubs themselves. However, Orbán was not really keen on sharing the state’s infinite wealth with private club owners who failed to invest in their clubs between 2002 and 2010. The club ownership takeover was not that challenging as previous owners were usually happy to cut their losses, and soon enough most clubs came under Orbán’s influence. Some clubs were integrated deep into Orbán’s reach (Ferencváros and MTK Budapest club presidents are high ranking officials of Orbán’s party) while in other cases, indirect control was deemed sufficient (Diósgyőri VTK was purchased by a businessman as an attempt to display loyalty to Orbán).
Pouring taxpayer money into infrastructure (stadium) projects is relatively easy: after all, we are basically talking about overpriced government construction projects, there’s nothing new there. On the other hand, allocating funds to clubs that should be operating on a competitive market is certainly a tougher nut to crack. The obvious solutions were implemented: the state media massively overpaid for broadcasting rights and the national sports betting agency also pays a hefty sum to the FA, allowing for a redistribution of considerable amounts. However, given that the income side of Hungarian clubs was basically non-existent (match day income is negligible, the failed youth development system does not sell players), an even more radical solution was desperately needed. Also, there was definite interest in the development of a tool that would allow for differentiation between clubs (as in the few remaining non-government affiliated clubs should not receive extra money).
The solution came in 2011: the so-called TAO (“társasági adó” = corporate tax) system was introduced, granting significant tax deductions for companies if they offered a portion of their profits to sports clubs – however, in theory, funds acquired through TAO can be only used for youth development and infrastructure purposes. Soon enough, it became apparent that state authorities were not exactly interested in the enforcement of these restrictions, so some very basic creative accounting measures enabled clubs to use this income for anything they wanted to. Companies were naturally keen on cutting their tax burdens and scoring goodwill with the government, so TAO money immediately skyrocketed. Opportunistic party strongmen used their influence to convince local business groups to invest in the local clubs, enabling for the meteoric rise of multiple unknown provincial teams (Mezőkövesd [pop: 16,000], Kisvárda [pop: 16,000], Balmazújváros [pop: 17,000]) into the first division.
Although it’s not the main subject of this piece, I feel inclined to show you the actual results of Orbán’s grandiose football reform. While we do have our beautiful stadiums, we don’t exactly get them filled – league attendance has stagnated around 3000 spectators per game throughout the whole decade. We couldn’t really move forward with our national team either: Hungary lost 10 positions in the FIFA World Rankings throughout Orbán’s ten years. On the other hand, the level of league has somewhat improved – Videoton and Ferencváros reached the Europa League group stage in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Too bad that the Instat-based top team of 2019/2020 Hungarian league consists of 10 foreigners and only 1 Hungarian: the goalkeeper.

Part 3: Small place, big game!

As seen in the previous chapter, Orbán did have a strong interest in the improvement of the football situation Hungary, but we shouldn’t forget that his deepest interest and true loyalty laid in the wellbeing of Felcsút and its academy. Now that Orbán had limitless means to see to the advancement of his beloved club, he got to work immediately. Orbán handed over formal club management duties to his friend / protégé / middleman / businessman Lőrinc Mészáros in 2010, but no questions would ever arise of who is actually calling the shots.
First of all, no club can exist without a proper stadium. Although in 2011 Orbán explicitly stated that “Felcsút does not need a stadium as stadiums belong to cities”, no one was really surprised in 2012 when the construction of the Felcsút stadium was announced. Orbán was generous enough to donate the lands just in front of his summer home in the village for the project, locating the entrance a mere ten meters away from his residence. Construction works for the stunningly aesthetic 3,800-seater arena (in a village of 1,800 people) started in April 2012 and were completed in April 2014, making Felcsút’s arena the second new stadium of Orbán’s gigantic stadium revival program.
The estimated budget of the construction was 120 million EUR (31,500 EUR / seat) was financed by the Puskás Academy who explicitly stated that they did not use government funds for the project. Technically, this statement is absolutely true as the construction was financed through the TAO money offered by the numerous companies looking for tax deduction and Orbán’s goodwill. However, technically, this means that the country’s budget was decreased by 120 million EUR unrealized tax revenue. Naturally, the gargantuan football stadium looks ridiculously out of place in the small village, but there’s really no other way to ensure that your favorite team’s stadium is within 20 seconds of walking distance from your home.
Obviously, a proper club should also have some glorious history. Felcsút was seriously lagging behind on this matter as though Felcsút FC was founded in 1931, it spent its pre-Orbán history in the uninspiring world of the 5th-7th leagues of the country. Luckily enough, Orbán had already secured Puskás’ naming rights and they were not afraid to use it, so Felcsút FC was renamed to Puskás Academy FC in 2009. The stadium name was a little bit problematic as the Hungarian national stadium in Budapest had sadly had the dibs on Puskás’ name, so they had to settle with Puskás’ Spanish nickname, resulting in the inauguration of the Pancho Arena. But why stop here? Orbán’s sports media strongman György Szöllősi acted upon the contract with Puskás’ widow and transferred all Puskás’ personal memorabilia (medals, jerseys, correspondence) to the most suitable place of all: a remote village in which Puskás never even set foot in.
While the off-field issues were getting resolved, Orbán’s attention shifted to another important area: the actual game of football. Although academy players started to graduate from 2008 on, it very soon became painfully obvious that the academy program couldn’t really maintain even a second division side for now. In 2009, Orbán reached an agreement with nearby Videoton’s owner that effectively transformed Felcsút FC into Videoton’s second team under the name of Videoton – Puskás Akadémia FC. The mutually beneficent agreement would allow Videoton to give valuable playing time to squad players while it could also serve as a skipping step for Puskás Academy’s fresh graduates to a first league team. The collaboration resulted in two mid-table finishes and a bronze medal in the second division in the following three seasons that wasn’t really impressive compared to Felcsút FC’s standalone seasons.
It seemed that the mixture of reserve Videoton players and academy youth was simply not enough for promotion, and although Orbán had assured the public multiple times that his Felcsút project was not aiming for the top flight, very telling changes arose after the 2011/2012 season. Felcsút terminated the Videoton cooperation deal and used the rapidly accumulating TAO funds to recruit experienced players for the now independently operating Puskás Academy FC (PAFC). The new directive worked almost too well: PAFC won its division with a 10 point lead in its first standalone year which meant that they would have to appear in the first league prior to the completion of their brand-new Pancho Arena. Too bad that this glorious result had almost nothing to do with the academy - only two players were academy graduates of the side’s regular starting XI.
Orbán did not let himself bothered with the ridiculousness of an academy team with virtually no academy players being promoted to the first division as he stated that “a marathon runner shouldn’t need to explain why the other runners were much slower than him”. Orbán also displayed a rare burst of modesty as he added that “his team’s right place is not in the first league, and they will soon be overtaken by other, better sides”.
The promotion of PAFC to the first division made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Supporter groups were united in hatred all along the league and not surprisingly, away fans almost always outnumbered the home side at PAFC’s temporary home at Videoton’s Sóstói Stadium (demolished and rebuilt in its full glory since then). One of the teams, however, possessed an extraordinary degree of anger against PAFC: supporters of Budapest Honvéd – the only Hungarian team in which Ferenc Puskás played – felt especially awkward about the transfer of their club legend’s heritage to Felcsút. Tensions spiked at the PAFC – Honvéd game when home security forced Honvéd supporters to remove the “Puskás” part of their traditional “Puskás – Kispest – Hungary” banner – the team answered the insult with style as they secured a 4-0 victory supported by fans chanting “you can’t buy legends”.
Despite Orbán’s prognosis, other better sides did not rush to overtake his team, so PAFC, now residing in their brand new Pancho Arena, came through with a 14th and a 10th place in their first two seasons. Naturally, conspiracy theories began to formulate, speculating that government-friendly owners would certainly not be motivated to give their best against PAFC. However, as the league size was reduced to 12 for the 2015/2016 season, PAFC found themselves in a dire situation just before the final round: they needed a win and needed rival Vasas to lose against MTK in order to avoid relegation. PAFC’s draw seemed to be unlucky as they faced their arch-enemy Honvéd at home, but Honvéd displayed an absolute lackluster effort – fueling conspiracy theories – and lost the fixture 2 to 1 against a home side featuring four academy players. Vasas, however, did not disappoint, their 2-0 victory resulted in PAFC’s elimination and a very relaxed sigh all over the football community.
PAFC’s relegation seemed to be in accordance with Orbán’s 2013 statement, so public opinion supposed for a while that Orbán’s project came to a halting point and the Academy would go on to actually field academy players in the second division (especially as rostering foreign players was prohibited in the lower leagues). However, if you have read through this point, you know better than to expect Orbán to retreat – obviously, PAFC came back with a bang. With a ballsy move, PAFC didn’t even sell their foreign players, they just loaned them across the league, promising them that they would be able to return next year to the newly promoted team. The promise was kept as PAFC went into another shopping spree of experienced players (easily convincing lots of them to choose the second division instead of the first) and easily won the second league.
Orbán – now aware of his negligence – opted for the doubling the team’s budget, making PAFC the third most well-founded club in the whole country (only coming short to his friend’s Videoton and his party minion’s Ferencváros). With an actual yearly influx from TAO money in the ballpark of 30-40 million EUR, PAFC management had to really work wonders in creative accounting in order to make their money look somewhat legitimate. The books were now full of ridiculous items like:
Naturally, in the country of no consequences, absolutely nothing happened: PAFC went on with its spending and signed 35 foreigners between 2017 and 2020. They did so because they could not hope to field a winning team in the first league consisting of academy players, despite the fact that Puskás Academy has been literally drowning in money since 2007. This seems to somewhat contradict Orbán’s 2013 promise, stating that “Puskás Academy will graduate two or three players to major European leagues each year”. To be fair, there have been players who managed to emerge to Europe (well, exactly two of them: Roland Sallai plays at Freiburg, László Kleinheisler played at Werder Bremen) but most academy graduates don’t even have the slightest the chance to make their own academy’s pro team as it’s full of foreigners and more experienced players drawn for other teams’ programs.
Despite their unlimited funding, PAFC could not put up a top-tier performance in their first two years back in the first division, finishing 6th and 7th in the 12-team league. Many speculated that the lack of support, motivation and even a clear team mission did not allow for chemistry to develop within the multinational and multi-generational locker room. Consistency was also a rare sight on the coaching side: club management was absolutely impatient with coaches who were very easily released after a single bad spell and there were talks of on-field micromanagement request coming from as high as Orbán.
Even so, their breakthrough came dangerously close in 2018 as PAFC performed consistently well in the cup fixtures and managed to reach the final. Their opponent, Újpest played an incredibly fierce game and after a 2-2 draw, they managed to defeat PAFC in the shootout. Football fans sighed in relief throughout the country as ecstatic Újpest supporters verbally teased a visibly upset Orbán in his VIP lounge about his loss.
Obviously, we could only delay the inevitable. While this year’s PAFC side seemed to be more consistent than its predecessors, it seemed that they won’t be able to get close to the podium - they were far behind the obvious league winner duo of Ferencváros and Videoton and were trailing third-place Mezőkövesd 6 points just before the pandemic break. However, both Mezőkövesd and PAFC’s close rivals DVTK and Honvéd fall flat after the restart while PAFC was able to maintain its good form due to its quality roster depth. PAFC overtook Mezőkövesd after the second-to-last round as Mezőkövesd lost to the later relegated Debrecen side. (Mezőkövesd coach Attila Kuttor was fined harshly because of his post-game comments on how the FA wants PAFC to finish third.)
PAFC faced Honvéd in the last round once again, and as Honvéd came up with its usual lackluster effort, PAFC secured an effortless win, confidently claiming the third place. PAFC celebrated their success in a nearly empty stadium, however neither Orbán, nor Mészáros (club owner, Orbán’s protégé, now 4th richest man of Hungary) seemed to worry about that. While Orbán high-fived with his peers in the VIP lounge, Mészáros was given the opportunity to award the bronze medals (and for some reason, a trophy) to the players dressed up in the incredibly cringe worthy T-shirts that say “Small place, big game!”. Big game, indeed: in the 2019/2020 season, foreign players’ share of the teams playing time was 43.6% while academy graduates contributed only 17.9%.
On Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after PAFC’s glorious success, György Szöllősi, now editor-in-chief of Hungary’s only sports newspaper (purchased by Orbán’s affiliates a few years back) published an editorial on the site, stating that “the soccer rebuild in Felcsút became the motor and symbol of the revitalization of sport throughout the whole country”. Well, Szöllősi is exactly right: Felcsút did became a symbol, but a symbol of something entirely different. Felcsút became a symbol of corruption, inefficiency, lies and the colossal waste of money. But, hey, at least we know now: you only need to spend 200 million EUR (total budget of PAFC and its academy in the 2011-2020 period) if you want to have a Europa League team in your backyard. Good to know!

Epilogue: What's in the future?

As there is no foreseeable chance for political change to happen Hungary (Orbán effortlessly secured qualified majority in 2014 and 2018, and is projected to do so in 2022 as well), PAFC’s future seems to be as bright as it gets. Although consensus opinion now seems to assume that Orbán does not intend to interfere with the Ferencváros – Videoton hegemony, we can never be really sure about the exact limits of his greed. One could also argue that entering the European theater serves as a prime opportunity for making splashy transfers who could be the cornerstones of a side challenging the league title.
However, as all political systems are deemed to fall, eventually Orbán’s regime will come apart. Whoever will take upon the helm after Orbán, they will certainly begin with cutting back on the one item on Orbán’s agenda that never had popular support: limitless football spending. Puskás Academy, having next to zero market revenue, will not be able to survive without the state’s life support, so the club will fold very shortly. The abandoned, rotting stadium in Felcsút will serve as a memento of a powerful man who could not understand the true spirit of football.
But let’s get back to present day, as we have more pressing issues coming up soon: PAFC will play their first European match in the First qualifying round of the Europa League on 27 August. We don’t have a date for the draw yet, but soon enough, a team unaware of the whole situation will be selected to face the beast. I hope that maybe one of their players does some research and maybe reads this very article for inspiration. I hope that the supporters of this club get in touch with Honvéd fans who would be eager to provide them with some tips on appropriate chants. I hope that other teams gets drawn as the home team so Orbán wouldn’t get the pleasure of walking to his stadium for an international match. But most importantly, I very much hope that this team obliterates PAFC and wipes them off the face of the earth. 5-0 will suffice, thank you.
And if this team fails to do that, we don’t have to worry yet. Due to our shitty league coefficient, PAFC would need to win four fixtures in a row. And that – if there’s any justice in this world – is a thing that can’t, that won’t happen. Ball don’t lie – if I may say.
TL,DR
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán redirected some 200 million EUR of taxpayer money over 10 years to fuel his ambition of raising a competitive football team in his hometown of 1,800 people. He built a 3,800-seater stadium in his backyard, expropriated football legend Ferenc Puskás’ trademarks and heritage and built up a football league where almost all clubs are owned by his trustees. His team, Puskás Akadémia FC was originally intended to be a development ground for youth players graduating from Orbán’s football academy, but eventually the team became more and more result-orianted. Finally, a roster full of foreign and non-academy players came through and finished third in the league, releasing this abomination of a team to the European football theatre. Please, knock them out asap!
submitted by pogacsa_is_life to soccer [link] [comments]

I've just released my bet tracker with a lot of features

Hi SoccerBetting.
trackbets.io - link 2
I posted on this sub a week ago and got good feedback on the website. Now I've listened to all the comments and added a lot more features.

Main features;
- Autocomplete on events (we have almost all fixtures for every team in the entire world)
- Automatically correcting of bets and calculating profits
- Support for decimal / american / fractional odds types
- Detailed statistics (all time, year, month) and leaderboard
And much more.

If you have your bets in a spreadsheet, we can import them for you! Just DM us.
I'm appreciating all feedback, if it's anything you miss, tell me and I'll add it.

N.B: Right now we're having a giveaway on €300 on our Twitter
submitted by ReactiioN to SoccerBetting [link] [comments]

How to Get Updated with the Latest Soccer Match Schedule?

Soccer is one of the most entraining sports in the world. As per a survey, more than four out of ten people in the world are soccer fans. It is also known as football around the world except in the US. It was noted that the last world cup Russia 2018 was viewed by more than 4 billion people across the globe. Soccer is a cheap game to play and you don’t need to spend too much on buying different gears as in case of other games like tennis, cricket and so on. It is also interesting to know that there has been increasing participation of female athletes in soccer at school, university, and semiprofessional levels over the last few decades.
FIFA organizes official soccer tournaments in many different playing styles such as FIFA World Cup (official men 11 vs 11 tournaments), Indoor Soccer or Futsal World Cup (5 vs 5 tournaments), Beach Soccer World Cup (5 vs 5 soccer played in sand), as well as other informal Street soccer and freestyle tournaments. There is thousands of website that allow people to watch live soccer from any corner of the world. They keep on updating the minute details such as Today's soccer match, soccer Schedule, tonight's soccer schedule, today's ball schedule and so on.
They allow soccer fans to get the latest live football scores, results & fixtures from across the world, including the Premier League.
Many good sites cover major leagues as well as lower divisions for most of the popular soccer countries. Soccer live scores soccer Schedule, tonight's soccer schedule, and results, cups and tournaments are also provided with goal scorers, soccer halftime results, red cards, goal alerts and soccer live score information.
There are also some sites that organize soccer betting where people earn money through soccer betting and can even challenge soccer fans across the world through a betting system.
One can simply get a soccer score within few clicks such as European soccer, live South American soccer, live North American football scores, live Asian soccer scores, African soccer results (e.g. CAF Champions League), Australian football leagues scores, junior & youth soccer scores and so on. With mobile apps, people can also download an app and stay updated with everything happening in the soccer game all across the globe.
Watch Now at www.hasilskor.live
submitted by hasilskor to u/hasilskor [link] [comments]

Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Portland Timbers

Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Portland Timbers

Basic Info:

Club Name: Portland Timbers
Location: Portland, Oregon
Stadium: Providence Park. Beautiful timelapse of the recent renovations.
Head Coach: Giovanni Savarese (3rd year)
Captain: Diego Valeri
CEO/Majority Owner: Merritt Paulson
USL Affiliate: Timbers 2
Kits:

2019 in Review

Final Standings: 14-13-7 (W-L-D), 49 pts, +3 GD, 6th in the West
In one word, the 2019 Portland Timbers season was draining. It was an endurance test for the players. It was an endurance test for even the most ardent supporters. And it was certainly an endurance test for a Front Office that invested serious capital into organizational infrastructure. Bookended by snowy affairs in the Rocky Mountains, a year filled with tantalizing potential melted away, leaving a passionate (some might say capricious) fanbase searching for explanations. So, what went wrong?
Well, it was always going to be an uphill battle from the opening kick. Starting with the coldest game in MLS history in Colorado, the Timbers faced a daunting 12-match road trip to accommodate the impressive renovations to Providence Park’s East stand. After accumulating 1 pt from the first six matches, including blow out losses to both FC Cincinnati (!) and then-winless San Jose, the fanbase collectively smashed the panic button entering a match against ex-coach Caleb Porter and his Columbus Crew. However, for the next few months, we witnessed a different team and a different mentality. Three consecutive quality victories against Columbus, Toronto, and RSL brought the team back from the abyss. And a subsequent win against upstart Philadelphia saw Portland finish its road marathon at a respectable 14 points.
Suddenly, the narrative flipped. Pundits consistently listed the Timbers at the top of their power rankings, and with 17 of the final 22 matches at one of the best home-field advantages in MLS, it seemed the positive momentum would prevail indefinitely. More importantly though, the Timbers had found their final piece to the puzzle: an elite, ruthless, and fiery DP striker in Brian Fernandez. Fresh off an impressive campaign with Necaxa in Liga MX, the Argentine became the first player in history to score in five consecutive regular-season games to open an MLS career. His clinicality and intensity raised the level of the squad, leading Steve Clark to don the classic Michael Myers mask from Halloween, declaring Providence Park as a “House of Horrors” for the opponent.
But as it turned out, the team never truly reacclimated to the friendly confines of its home pitch. After four months (incl. preseason) away from home, the squad’s lethal counter-attacking style was far more suited for road matches which provided no impetus to play attractive soccer. Away victories at elite opponents including NYCFC, Seattle, and LAFC provided a stark contrast to disheartening home performances against the likes of Colorado, Orlando, and 10-man Chicago. And soon, the atmosphere off-the-field began to match the team’s sudden struggles on the pitch.
Political viewpoints aside, the Iron Front protests and Diego Valeri’s contract impasse ignited an already contentious relationship between the Timbers Army and FO. Meanwhile, as the squad racked up disappointing home results due to uninspired offensive play, home attendance began to waver more so than years past. While the home sell-out streak remains to this day, the increased number of empty seats in Providence Park was a pretty blunt indication of increased apathy towards the organization.
And then, there was the cherry on top. After missing consecutive matches due to a reported “stomach bug,” it became pretty clear Brian Fernandez was not the same player he was in the early summer. With a complicated and somber family history, Fernandez had struggled with substance abuse issues in the past but seemed to be on the path to full recovery during recent years. However, in October, Fernandez entered the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, and just as his story arc in green-and-gold faded to black, the Timbers season finished with a whimper. Jefferson Savarino’s 87th-minute goal in snowy Utah knocked the Timbers out of Cup contention. Eleven months following an exciting run to MLS Cup, Portland entered the 2020 offseason weary, drained, and searching for a new beginning.

The Coach

Giovanni Savarese
I expected 2019 to provide more clarity on Giovanni Savarese’s coaching aptitude, but as I sit here one year later, I’m still left with more questions than answers. Gio’s passion and fervor was a refreshing juxtaposition to Caleb Porter’s often smug demeanor, but his far more conservative style still ruffles the feathers of fans who yearn for the days of “Porterball.” While Savarese implemented a high-pressing, dynamic, and open style during his time at the Cosmos, he has yet to find similar success doing so in the Rose City. The past two seasons have exhibited nearly the same progression: start the season trying to play pressing-style soccer, get beat badly, and then resort to a conservative, counter-attacking approach.
The truth of the matter is the conservative style fits the Portland Timbers. When the defense is solid, Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco are talented enough to win the game on the counter by themselves. However, this tactical inflexibility is essentially the sole on-field contributor for why the team struggled so mightily down the stretch. When teams packed it in and eliminated the possibility of counter-attacks, Portland could not break down the opposition, resorted to launching an MLS record number of crosses, and got scorched on counters going the other way. A taste of their own medicine if you will.
In 2020, Savarese has no excuse. There’s no road trip to start the season, he has a loaded arsenal of complimentary attacking weapons, and now it’s abundantly clear the Timbers must learn how to control games from the front foot. An identity is useful, but flexibility is a requirement to be great. The club wants to (has to) win now, and they’ve invested significantly into personnel and infrastructure to do so. Now, it’s up to Savarese to lead the team to silverware.

Departures

Brian Fernandez (ST): This one hurts. There are no two ways about it. Fernandez truly convinced GM Gavin Wilkinson and TD Ned Grabavoy that he was past his struggles, but unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be the case. As Wilkinson stated in The Athletic, “if we could go back and do it again, we wouldn’t have done it,” adding “what I will say is the word fraud exists for a reason.” Rumors suggest Necaxa covered up a failed drug test, and MLS is currently launching a lawsuit to help the club recoup the transfer fee. While Wilkinson suggests Fernandez was a bust, the truth is he scored 15 goals in ~25 games in all comps, showing a ruthlessness in front of goal that rivaled the Martinez’s and Ruidiaz’s of the league. As people who have met him can attest, he’s a vibrant and kind individual regardless of the fact he continues to face difficult obstacles off the field. It's just such a disappointment that it didn’t all come together, and I pray for his health and safety.
Zarek Valentin (RB): This one hurts too. Zarek was a staple of the community, someone who embraced Portland as his home, and was as approachable as any professional athlete. With initiatives like wearing a rainbow ribbon in his hair to fundraise for homeless LGBT+ youth, Zarek was an ideal steward for the club and community. With our lack of fullback depth, leaving him unprotected in the expansion draft was far from a popular decision - one that strained an already frayed relationship between the Front Office and some fans. That said, as amazing as Zarek is, his lack of athleticism was starting to catch up to him. He even admitted some struggles down the stretch, and as more talented/athletic wingers enter the league, his minutes might soon reflect it. Zarek’s versatility, eccentricity, and civic involvement will certainly be missed though. Houston, you’ve got a great dude.
Claude Dielna (CB): The most puzzling move of 2019, it didn’t take an acute observer to recognize that Dielna struggled in MLS. Wilkinson and Grabavoy took a one-year flier on Dielna to be the 4th-stringer, and the outcome was fairly predictable. He possesses a silky left foot which allows him to pick sharp passes out of the back, but he can’t run, can’t jump, and can’t defend 1v1. All of those attributes are pretty essential requirements for playing CB in any league, so it’s no surprise to see the organization not renew his contract. In the end, I wouldn’t suggest Dielna self-immolated like many horrific Timbers CBs of yesteryear (see McKenzie, Raushawn), but I highly doubt anyone will be pining for his return.
Foster Langsdorf (ST): Langsdorf may be used as an example of a Homegrown the Timbers failed to move through the ranks, but letting him go makes sense (unfortunately.) In a 2019 season essential for his development, he failed to make any significant impact at the USL level, and at 24, he would’ve entered the 2020 campaign in the exact spot he did the previous two seasons. Despite some clever finishes in the 2018 USL season, he’s not a legitimate option for the first team in this day in age - especially when similarly-aged strikers Felipe Mora, Jaroslaw Niezgoda, and Jeremy Ebobisse boast far more developed skillsets.
Modou Jadama (CB/RB): Jadama made two total appearances for the first team over two seasons, including one start at RB at Montreal in 2019. To be frank, he didn’t particularly shine as an MLS-caliber player during that time, so his opportunity to cement himself in the organization’s plans came and went. Now at Atlanta United 2, I think he’ll be a good fit for a full-time USL position, although we probably could have used CB depth with Bill Tuiloma’s injury.
Kendall McIntosh (GK): McIntosh was an undersized goalkeeper whose frame and athleticism is reminiscent of the likes of Nick Rimando. For the most part, he was a career T2 netminder that was far too raw in some areas to mount a challenge against experienced keepers like Jeff Attinella and Steve Clark. Now a member of the Red Bulls via the Re-Entry Draft, I doubt McIntosh finds many more minutes outside of the USL, but he seemed like a good dude and we all wish him the best.

2020 Outlook:

So, where does that leave us for the 2020 season? Well, pretty close to the same spot we found ourselves last year. In the preceding two seasons, it was clear the Timbers possessed enough talent to capture silverware, yet surpassing the final hurdle proved to be too much. As a result, continuity in terms of roster management remains among the league’s most stable. Ultimately, Portland took the field March 3 in Colorado with 10 of the 11 starters from MLS Cup the previous December, and this season, the only departure considered a surefire starter was Brian Fernandez.
However, the main difference in 2020 comes down to the acquisitions. The Timbers FO utilized the abnormally long break to load up with an arsenal of talent, providing a stark divergence from the quiet transfer window in 2019. As much as I want to compliment the FO for its hard work this offseason, acquiring fresh blood was essential. Key pieces of the core including Larrys Mabiala, Diego Chara, Sebastian Blanco, and Diego Valeri are all exiting their prime window, and the Timbers must capitalize before that window slams shut. Consequently, four of the five names you’ll see listed in the acquisitions section below were brought in to have an immediate impact and elevate an already talented squad.
As a result, in terms of pure on-paper talent, this is a Top 5 caliber MLS team. Whether Savarese can coalesce that talent into a functioning, dynamic, and successful unit is an entirely different story however. It honestly feels like a boom-or-bust type season, and I’m worried about how they’ll navigate the natural roller-coaster swings that MLS’s parity generates. So, I’ll leave you with this: if the Timbers figure out how to maintain defensive structure without resorting to a conservative shell, they’ll be one of the best teams in the league. If not, all bets are off.

Acquisitions:

Jarosław Niezgoda (ST): The Polish DP doesn’t have to single-handedly replace Brian Fernandez’s goal contributions, but make no mistake about it, the Timbers brought Niezgoda in to make an immediate and profound impact on the scoresheet. At only 24, Jarek arrives with a high pedigree having notched double-digit goals in multiple seasons for one of Poland’s powerhouses in Legia Warsaw. Ultimately, it makes sense European clubs like Bordeaux and Torino were sniffing around the striker, as he’s quite mobile for his size, can finish well with both feet, and is clever with his movements inside the box. And say what you will about the Ekstraklasa, it has a strange knack for producing efficient goalscorers, including Niezgoda’s Legia predecessor Nemanja Nikolic.
However, there is a massive catch: Niezgoda has struggled with injuries throughout his career. In a league famous for physical play, and on a team that has experienced its fair share of injury-riddled seasons, Jarek’s fitness is a legitimate concern. While his congenital heart issues seem to be held in check, Legia fans are quick to mention “he's made of glass, and it's hard to keep him in shape for the whole season.” The Timbers’ physio staff will have their work cut out for them to keep Niezgoda on the pitch and scoring goals.
Note: Niezgoda has yet to feature in preseason due to the recovery timeline from a heart ablation procedure during his medical. We likely won’t see him in the XI for the first few weeks of 2020.
Felipe Mora (ST): Niezgoda’s injury-checkered past is an important factor for why Mora’s arrival is such a critical addition. The 26-year-old Chilean seemingly fell into the Timbers lap in a series of fortuitous circumstances, as they acquired him on a TAM loan deal from Pumas in Liga MX. Normally, Mora would be a DP caliber acquisition, and in fact, he was considered a serious target for the final DP slot last year before the club opted for Fernandez. However, after falling out of favor, Pumas were willing to let him go in a manner that accommodated Portland’s limited remaining budget space. Mora provides a divergent style from Niezgoda’s channel-running and Ebobisse’s hold-up ability. He operates on a true poacher’s instinct, and his industrious approach will provide a complementary presence to any of the other strikers.
Dario Župarić (CB): If there’s one offseason acquisition that is more critical to the team's success than the others, Dario Župarić is that guy. Throughout the Timbers MLS history, CB has easily been their most troublesome spot, and they’ve yet to replace Liam Ridgewell’s contributions since his departure last year. Say what you will about Liam’s off-the-field persona: his magnetism, leadership, organizational skills, and distribution were undoubtedly influential to the club’s performance.
Župarić, for lack of a better statement, is essentially the true Ridgewell replacement. At 27-years-old, the Croatian arrives with 90+ matches under his belt at Pescara in Italy and Rijeka in Croatia, a club that has already produced productive MLS players like Héber and Damir Kreilach. Early reports in training regard him as “smooth and confident,” and even if that confidence has gotten the better of him occasionally, those characteristics exemplify why Gio had never received “more messages from friends saying you’ve brought in a very good player.” In the end though, the pressure is on Dario to perform on the pitch. MLS athleticism poses a unique challenge, and there’s little flexibility to compensate for any struggles. His adjustment to MLS must be quick.
Yimmi Chara (RM): Recognize the last name? In a courtship that has lasted as long as the Timbers MLS era itself, Wilkinson finally brought the youngest Chara brother to the Rose City. Acquired as a DP from Atletico Mineiro, there is concern about whether Yimmi’s G+A output will justify the reported $6 million transfer fee. Throughout his career, he’s never been the type of player to light up the scoresheet, but it’s difficult to dispossess him and he provides lightning-quick pace that this roster lacks. With multiple attacking options, I honestly don’t anticipate much pressure to fill the stat sheet, and his familial connection to the organization should facilitate a more seamless transition. Plus, it’s difficult enough for the opposition to face one Chara - it’ll certainly be a pain in the ass to confront two.
Blake Bodily (LM): The HG left-footer is a fairly highly-regarded prospect coming out of the Pac-12, and he showed flashes of quality during his time at T2 a few years ago. With the depth on the wings, I can’t imagine he’ll see much of any first-team minutes. I could be wrong, especially if things go south for any reason, but let’s revisit this signing a year or two from now.

A word on everyone else:

Goalkeepers:
Steve Clark (GK): Without a doubt, Clark was the surprise player of 2019. Boasting the highest save percentage and second-lowest GAA in the league, Clark made numerous highlight-reel saves after taking over for Jeff Attinella in late April. While the occasional mental lapse defined much of his career up to this point, the 33-year-old was nearly flawless in all phases of play last season. However, there’s legitimate concern that this outstanding form is not replicable throughout the next campaign. After Attinella’s regression to the mean following a career year, one can understand why the Front Office might have been apprehensive to give him a sizable pay raise - even if his performances warranted it. That said, Clark’s got the new deal in his pocket and will certainly be the starter opening day vs Minnesota.
Jeff Attinella (GK): As highlighted above, few Timbers had a more ill-fated 2019 campaign than Jeff Attinella. After a torrid 2018 season, Attinella’s performances were marred by poor decision after poor decision until his year concluded with season-ending shoulder surgery. You have to feel for the guy too, as for the first time in his career, he entered an MLS regular season as the unquestioned starter. We’ll see how he recovers from the shoulder injury, but if Clark’s consistency remains and Aljaž Ivačič shows promise, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Timbers move him while he still has some value.
Aljaž Ivačič (GK): If there’s a Timber who had a more disastrous 2019 than Jeff Attinella though, it’s probably Aljaž Ivačič. The 26-year-old Slovenian was acquired last offseason to be the goalkeeper of the future, but a significant leg surgery last February took him out of team activities for most of the year. When he did return with T2 in late summer, things did not look great to say the least. It is undoubtedly difficult to adapt to a new country, but Ivačič’s struggles were worryingly apparent. Most of his goals conceded for T2 looked similar to this, where he was either in the wrong position, extremely hesitant to come off his line, or strikingly late to react to the opponent. These are fundamental issues that can hopefully be chalked up to rust and then addressed with a full preseason. If not, Aljaž might go down as one of the worst signings in club history.
Defenders:
Jorge Moreira (RB): Moreira possesses the talent to be the best RB in the league, but sporadically found himself a liability last season. After years spent with Argentine powerhouse River Plate, the 30-year-old Paraguayan was naturally inclined to push up the pitch since his teams had often dominated the game’s flow. As a result, the Timbers’ conservative style and league’s athleticism caught him off guard, as he had an unfortunate propensity to be out of position early in 2019. However, he mostly adjusted over the course of the year, and his power, crossing ability, and dynamism are crucial to the team.Even with the occasional poor clearance, Moreira is a lockdown starter and few RBs in MLS have his offensive weaponry and pedigree. His loan only lasts until June 30 however, though I’d fully expect the Front Office to lock him down on a permanent deal.
Update: the Timbers right-side defense has been tragic this preseason, and much of that has to do with Moreira’s play. He’ll have to re-adjust or else he’ll revert back to being a liability again
Larrys Mabiala (CB): With his pearly-white smile, cool demeanor, and commanding aerial ability, the big French-Congolese CB is one of the most respected players in the Timbers’ locker room. In a position that is a perennial revolving door of underperforming wreckage, Mabiala has been the one “written-in-ink” starter since mid-2017, and his veteran savvy is integral to the squad’s success. But at age 32, Larrys’ value is not embodied by his individual qualities but more so the partnership he forms with Župarić. His physical presence will always be vital to an otherwise undersized team, however, he lacks the turn of pace and distribution ability that would place him among the elite CBs in MLS. As a result, Larrys and Dario must discover how to paper over each other’s weaknesses by performing to their unique capabilities: Župarić covers ground well and can initiate attacking movements while Mabiala handles physical strikers and cleans up loose balls in the 18. In the end, his consistency will be as influential as any player on the roster. If for any reason he performs below the norm, there is simply not enough quality depth behind him to overcome it.
Bill Tuiloma (CB): Tuiloma is not spectacular by any means, but he’s an ideal player to provide sporadic minutes. The 24-year-old Kiwi is cheap, versatile, and possesses enough technical quality to score the odd banger. It’s a shame a calf injury will rule him out for the next few weeks, as the team could use his flexibility for spot duty at CB, RB, and even defensive midfield. If he recovers fully and Župarić struggles to adapt to the league’s athleticism, expect him to mount a challenge for starting minutes.
Julio Cascante (CB): The Costa Rican CB is best described as a high-ceiling, low-floor player whose ceiling continues to lower year after year. As far as backup CBs go, he’s probably adequate, but the guy went from a fringe national-teamer to virtually off-the-radar since his arrival in Portland. Though his height and build forge a formidable aerial presence, he’s yet to resolve occasional mental lapses and improve his subpar distribution. But Julio’s most maddening characteristic is his inconsistency. Perhaps the best thing you can say about a Cascante performance is that you didn’t notice him. Unfortunately, he tends to stick out for all the wrong reasons. Maybe a little more familiarity with the league will help the 26-year-old raise his level in 2020. I’m not exceedingly hopeful though.
Jorge Villafaña (LB): El Sueño hasn’t been the same player since his departure to Santos Laguna after MLS Cup 2015. Still an excellent crosser, Villafaña really struggled with pacey wingers towards the beginning of the season, although there are some whispers he was often gutting through minor knocks. Even with an uptick of form over the course of the campaign, there is legitimate concern he’s lost a step and will be a liability in the backline. I love the man as much as the next guy, but I’d say the uneasiness is valid. Let’s hope he proves us all wrong.
Marco Farfan (LB): The lack of confidence in Villafaña would be less of an issue if Zarek Valentin were still suiting up in the green-and-gold because Marco Farfan is as fragile as a potato chip. The HG LB is not the most athletic individual, but his technical quality is probably proficient enough to play at this level. Farfan still has to evolve as a 1v1 defender, though he’ll certainly get looks this year if he can manage to stay healthy.
Note: We still need a backup RB. It could be former NYRB, IMFC, and Dynamo player Chris Duvall. 20-year-old Venezuelan Pablo Bonilla is another option, but he’s at T2 for the meantime.
Midfielders:
Diego Valeri (CAM): When all is said and done, I hope MLS fans and media take a moment to appreciate just how good Diego Valeri was. Since 2015, we’ve witnessed impressive names take home the Landon Donovan MVP award including Giovinco, Villa, Josef, and Vela. Sandwiched in between those names you’ll find Diego Valeri. Only the ninth MLS player to reach the elusive 70G, 70A Club, Valeri took the Timbers from a hapless expansion side to a perennial playoff contender. And from my admittedly biased perspective, I don’t think he gets enough credit for doing so. But don’t take it from me, take it from Albert Rusnak, who accurately captures the true essence of the Maestro in this interview. For the miracles performed on the pitch, his importance and presence in the community are just as admirable.
However, times are changing for Valeri, and it’s best exemplified by the fact we almost lost him over a contract dispute this offseason. By taking a TAM deal, Diego not only affirmed his commitment to the organization but allowed them to make moves to best ensure he doesn’t retire with only a single major MLS title to his name. I’d expect the Timbers staff to exercise more load management with him this campaign, but by no means does that change his status as a pillar of the club and community. Build the statue.
Sebastian Blanco (LM/RM): Sebastian Blanco is one of those guys who never seems to score a bad goal. The fiery Argentine may not be the face of the franchise off the pitch, but the decision to extend his DP contract over Valeri is a hint towards Blanco’s importance on the field. After posting his second consecutive double-digit assist campaign, Blanco’s quality across all attacking midfield positions is unquestioned. That said, 2020 is a pivotal season for the Timbers’ oldest Designated Player. Soon to be 32, the clock is ticking on Blanco’s heyday, and he’ll certainly aspire to outperform 2019’s underwhelming tally of six goals from 106 shot attempts. Now surrounded by a wealth of complimentary attacking pieces though, I’d expect a rejuvenated Seba come March. Bet the over on six goals.
Diego Chara (CDM): If there’s anyone who can conquer the inevitability of fathertime, Diego Chara is the guy. Soon to be 34-years-old, Chara’s performance metrics — involving areas such as speed and distance covered — reached all-time highs last year. His importance to the club over the past decade cannot be overstated, and we were all ecstatic to see him finally partake in an MLS All Star Game last season. The Colombian possesses a pillowy first touch, an immense soccer IQ, and a fearless presence in the middle of the park, and there simply will be no replacing him when he finally does choose to retire. But to be honest with you, I think he’s still got a few more Best XI caliber seasons in him. He just ages like a fine wine.
Andrés Flores (CM): Hell, I’m just gonna copy and paste exactly what I wrote last year because it’s still just as applicable. Andres Flores is like a Toyota Camry - solid if unspectacular. He doesn't have the sexy style that will garner all the attention, but when push comes to shove and you need to get from point A to point B, he’ll do the job (at a very low price too!). Look for him to assist in spot-duty once he returns from injury, but his most important contributions will likely be found in the little things off the pitch.
Cristhian Paredes (CM): At only 21 years of age, the full Paraguayan international started over 30 matches the past two seasons and has also emerged as the surefire midfield partner to Diego Chara. After a 2018 campaign that saw a significant adjustment period, Paredes looked far more composed in 2019, adding late-runs into the box into his arsenal midway through last season. However, no longer on loan from Club America, Paredes will face more organizational pressure to be a day-in, day-out starter this campaign. His ranginess and ability to break up play are unquestioned, but he needs to become a bit cleaner on the ball and more confident playing out of tight spaces. That said, there’s a reason the club has invested more capital into the promising midfielder: he has the potential to be a significant contributor for years to come.
Marvin Loría (LM/RM): In the next few seasons, I’d wager Marvin Loría will become the poster child for the Timbers youth development structure. With a comparatively underdeveloped and shallow Homegrown talent pool, Portland picks up guys like Loría out of foreign youth programs to develop through the Timbers pipeline. The 22-year-old Costa Rican international showed significant promise last season, and he can play a true inverted winger role - a unique style in terms of this roster. While he may see time at LM and CAM, I love him cutting in from the right, as he can deliver bangers like this and allow Jorge Moreira to bulldoze forward. At a league minimum salary, Loría provides the cheap and talented depth which makes this attack’s outlook so promising. I can’t wait to see what strides he makes this season (once he returns from an underpublicized/undisclosed injury).
Andy Polo (RM): Not many people in the Timbers fanbase understand why Andy Polo is still on the roster, let alone competing for starting minutes. In 2,860 MLS minutes, the Peruvian winger has only managed a dismal one goal and three assists - a statline that is considerably worse than ineffective wingers of the past including Kalif Alhassan, Sal Zizzo, and Franck Songo’o. He’s not an outright liability, and occasionally puts in a shift defensively, but he essentially exists solely to occupy space. Now entering his third season, Polo’s best string of matches came as the third CM in a 4-3-2-1 just before the 2018 World Cup. He’s since gathered looks in preseason as a #8 in a 4-3-2-1 and showed flashes but is still incomplete. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Tomas Conechny (CF/LM/RM): The 21-year-old Argentine enters the 2020 campaign a relative unknown, and though the club thought enough of him to exercise his full-time purchase option from San Lorenzo, his fit on the squad has yet to be fully discerned. Rumored to be one of the better headers-of-the-ball on the team, he showed occasional creative sparks in late-game situational appearances but has yet to prove he deserves starting minutes. We hear quotes akin to “he doesn’t yet know how good he can be,” but it still isn’t obvious that a particular position suits him well or if he even possesses a skillset that allows him to be a difference-maker at this level. For all intents and purposes, he’s likely to end up Diego Valeri’s understudy even if Conechny has yet to show the same precision and danger at a playmaking second-forward role. As a result, it remains to be seen if the high-rated prospect grows into a significant piece of the puzzle or if his lack of positional clarity ultimately hampers his development.
Dairon Asprilla (RM): Dairon Asprilla plays at an all-star caliber level if one of two things are true: the Timbers are on the verge of postseason elimination or he’s playing on T2. If neither of those two things are true, he’s often more useless than a turn signal on a BMW. Some wonder if he possesses compromising pictures of Wilkinson or MP, otherwise there’s very little to explain why he’s one of the longest-tenured Timbers - especially considering he’s been in-and-out of the doghouse almost every year. Word out of training suggests he’s been one of the best players in camp, but we’ve been down this road before - if it’s not Oct. or Nov., Asprilla often looks lost on the pitch.
Sidenote: 99% of Dairon’s shot attempts get thwarted due to his foolishly long windup, but when he does get a hold of one, they stay hit.
Eryk Williamson (CM): The HG midfielder (by way of D.C.) found starting minutes in spot appearances last fall, and he looked competent if unremarkable. For T2, Williamson often occupied more advanced positions, but I think he projects best as a ball-shuttling #8 in this squad. In particular, I can see him fitting into Andy Polo’s old role as a CM next to Chara and/or Paredes in a 4-3-2-1, as his passing and combination play provide a diverse look from the other two. Overall, Williamson finds himself in a decent situation to get game action this year, and I’m interested to see how he develops and grows in confidence in 2020.
Renzo Zambrano (CDM): Another international brought through the T2 pipeline, Zambrano is essentially Diego Chara’s backup at the #6. Since George Fochive left following the 2015 season, the Timbers have struggled to find a suitable defensive backup in the central midfield. Renzo is now that guy. The 25-year-old Venezuelan appeared in 10 matches last season and struggled immensely in fixtures against Colorado and Atlanta, but showed flashes of positivity in thrashings of Houston and Vancouver. 2020 will require more consistency from Zambrano who doesn’t possess the same physicality or power as Chara - but then again, few do. As a result, if I were Savarese, I’d try to mold Zambrano into a fulcrum/anchor type midfielder in the form of a Uri Rosell or Scott Caldwell. He’s a capable passer, and if he simplifies his game to shield the backline, he’ll be an asset to the team. If not, he’ll likely over-extend himself, and his midfield partner will be forced to work more tirelessly to maintain solid defensive shape. Renzo is likely the first option off the bench whenever Chara or Paredes are unavailable, so his growth is critical to the team’s success this year.
Forwards:
Jeremy Ebobisse (ST): Since Niezgoda and Mora’s arrival, some fans and media have denounced the organization for burying the 23-year-old American on the depth chart and hindering his development. Here’s why I think that’s an overly-sensationalized viewpoint:
  1. As Wilkinson has correctly identified, Ebobisse will miss a good chunk of the early season for Olympic qualification, and with Niezgoda’s injury history, there needs to be other legitimate options to start upfront (i.e. not Dairon Asprilla).
  2. In 2018, Ebobisse entered the season ‘stuck’ behind two DP-type strikers in Fanendo Adi and Samuel Armenteros. Guess who emerged on top? Ebobisse. There will be multiple competitions, two-striker formations, and rotations that allow him to earn quality minutes.
  3. This idea that the organization is almost trying to sabotage his development is an outrageous claim. Ebobisse was the only player on the squad to play in every match last season and only finished behind Chara, Blanco, and Valeri in terms of total minutes played. Granted, he played a fair few matches at LW (not ideal, but he wasn’t outright terrible), but the team did have its best stretch of success with him and Fernandez on the pitch together.
But the one factor people must acknowledge is this: Ebobisse still hasn’t developed the it factor that other MLS strikers have - at least not yet. When Fernandez arrived, his ruthlessness was a stark contrast to Ebobisse’s often less-goal-hungry runs and occasional lack of clarity in the final third. Jeremy is a decent finisher, even with a few missed sitters, but he’s still not consistent enough with the direct runs off the shoulder that separate good from great. He’ll hopefully continue to develop a wider range of skills, but he’s not yet the guy to put this team over the top.
Predicted Starting XI:
Primarily: 4-2-3-1
Other likely options: 4-3-2-1 or 4-4-2
Best Case Scenario:
A top playoff seed and a challenge for either the Supporter’s Shield or MLS Cup. Savarese effectively implements tactical flexibility, Niezgoda and Mora combine for 20+ goals, and Cristhian Paredes takes the next step forward in his development. While Župarić locks down the defense, one of Valeri or Blanco mounts a Best XI campaign, and Diego Chara makes a second consecutive All-Star Game appearance. Sprinkle in a Cascadia Cup alongside a harmonious relationship between the Front Office and Timbers Army, and you have a damn successful year.
Worst Case Scenario:
Pretty much the opposite of what you see above. Niezgoda can’t stay healthy while the core pieces’ form collectively falls off a cliff. Those in the Army who hold a personal vendetta against Merritt Paulson blow a trivial issue out of proportion causing a full-on revolt from the supporter’s group. Savarese proves to be an average coach with exploitable flaws, and the team fails to qualify for the playoffs in a competitive Western Conference. Significant spending, no tangible results. A wasted year.
Realistic Scenario:
Well, either of those two scenarios could qualify as realistic. But like all Timbers seasons, it’s most realistic to be somewhere in between. There’ll be stretches of outright panic, and there’ll be other times where we all convince ourselves the Timbers will win MLS Cup. Some of the signings hit: let’s go with Župarić - while other signings underwhelm due to extenuating circumstances: probably Niezgoda (and his glass skeleton). The team finishes in the middle of the pack - a team that no one wants to face in October - but one that is equally liable to beat themselves.
Prediction:
Even for someone as pessimistic as I am, I won’t predict the worst-case scenario. Nevertheless, I can’t shake the discouraging feeling that the Timbers will squander its immense talent again. A disappointing 6th or 7th place finish is in store after another taxing roller-coaster season. However, I’ll go out on a limb to say Portland does win a Cascadia Cup or USOC - some sort of silverware that convinces everybody the obvious flaws can be overcome in 2021. Blanco has a great 2020 season. The other pieces show flashes brilliance, yet can’t quite string together enough consistency to let the attack fire on all cylinders. Savarese will keep his job but enters the 2021 campaign on the hotseat. It’ll be another case of “close, but not close enough.”

Online Resources

Official Links: Website | Twitter
Local Coverage: Oregon Live | Stumptown Footy
Best Twitter follow: Chris Rifer
Best Read: Jamie Goldberg’s article on Fernandez didn’t age well, but it’s extremely important to understand his tragic life story.
Subreddit: timbers

#RCTID

submitted by NewRCTID22 to MLS [link] [comments]

Team Preview - Watford [Premier League 2019-20 - 10/20]

Watford

by TheJeck

Welcome to the triumphant return of the Premier League Previews, a series where a fan gives an overview of his team for your perusal, and I get an excuse to take pot-shots at other clubs. This will run until the eve of the Premier League, taking a look at each club in turn. Today we're out of London but paradoxically still on the Tube line as we visit Watford.
About

Last season

Pos P W D L GF GA GD Points
11 38 14 8 16 52 59 -7 50
It's safe to say most Watford fans were apprehensive going into the 2018/19 season. Javi Gracia becoming the first head coach since the Championship to remain in charge from the previous season was a plus, but only the permanent acquisition of loanee Deulofeu and goalkeeper Ben Foster looked to improve the first team, with fans crying out for a striker and centre back. Paul Merson and Phil McNulty each proceeded to predict Watford's relegation for the fourth successive year.
However, the Hornets came flying out of the traps, winning their first four league games, including a comeback to win 2-1 against Tottenham. This led to Gracia being awarded the Manager of the Month award for August. Despite continuing to put in largely good performances, some poor finishing and defensive errors meant that Watford won just two of their next twelve games, slipping from the lofty heights of 3rd to a season low of 12th. During this time they were knocked out of the League Cup on penalties by Tottenham, in a game bizarrely played at Stadium MK due to the unavailability of Wembley or the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
December, January and February brought better fortunes, with Watford only losing three games in all competitions in this time, all to top six clubs, despite playing 9 out of their first 11 games of 2019 away in all competitions. The depth in the squad was utilised in the FA Cup, with the team reaching the quarter final without putting out a full strength side, much to the anger of Chris Sutton. A full strength team was played for this quarter final against Crystal Palace, who Watford beat 2-1 for the third time in the season to progress to Wembley. In the league, the Hornets were embroiled in the race for Europa League football, periodically reaching the hallowed 7th spot before swiftly dropping out. A 1-0 win at home against Marco Silva's Everton was a highlight as Watford continued to struggle against the top six.
The FA Cup Semi Final was the match of the season for Watford. Up against a Wolves side they were also competing for 7th place with, Watford found themselves 2-0 down with 11 minutes to go, with goals from Doherty and Jimenez, the latter celebrating with a mask which drew comment from the usually reserved Troy Deeney. However, a sublime lob from Gerard Deulofeu gave Watford hope before a stoppage time Deeney penalty took the tie to extra time, where Deulofeu added a second to take Watford to their 2nd cup final in history. In the league, a 2-1 win against Huddersfield put Watford in 7th with three out of four games left at home. If they won all these they were guaranteed European football. u/TheJeck, not wanting to miss a minute of the race for Europe, ran a mile from Watford Junction station to make it to the fixture against Southampton for kick off - only for Shane Long to score the fastest goal in Premier League history. Twat. Watford drew 1-1, then lost 2-1 to Wolves to effectively end our hopes of coming second. A 3-0 loss to Chelsea confirmed that we would take just 3 points from games with the top six, and a 4-1 defeat to West Ham meant that Watford finished 11th, just the third match this season they finished outside the top ten.
However, there was still hope of a first trophy in the clubs history and a Europa League spot to boot through the FA Cup final. With Jose Holebas' suspension rescinded, Watford were full strength going into their match with league champions Manchester City, who were gunning for an unprecedented domestic treble. However, it was not to be, with City running out 6-0 winners. Regardless, at 5-0 down the Watford fans all started chanting and waving fans, showing what a successful season it had been in their eyes.

This Season

It has been a quieter transfer window than usual for Watford, with just two arrivals at the time of writing. The Hornets have been crying out for a new centre back since last summer and Craig Dawson brings Premier League experience at a low price. Tom Dele-Bashiru is a promising young midfielder who didn't quite make the grade at Manchester City. Watford are also currently in negotiations for Rennes winger Ismalia Sarr for what would be a club record fee, which have been going on for several weeks, making it quite the Sarr-ga (I'm not even sorry). In January Watford will finally complete the signing of Fluminese striker Joao Pedro, widely seen to be a hugely promising talent and already being watched by several of the world's biggest clubs. The fact that Watford have already secured his signature is a testament to the scouting network in South America.
In terms of departures, only Miguel Britos has been released from the first team squad, with veteran goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who was "99% sure" he would retire, signing on for another year. Some young players have been loaned out, most notably promising defender Ben Wilmot to Swansea. In terms of business to complete, Watford will want to finally get the Sarr signing over the line as well as find a loan for youngsters Cucho Hernandez and Pontus Dahlberg.
With Javi Gracia having been at the helm for one and a half years and arguably the most important transfer business of keeping the likes of Doucoure and Deulofeu taken care of, expectations going into the new season are higher than they have been since the 1980s. Relegation is seen as a possibility but not a real concern, with fans believing we will finish mid table or possibly top half.
Transfers
Highlights
Player Type From To Fee(£m)
Miguel Britos Perm Watford Released Free
Craig Dawson Perm West Brom Watford 5.49
Tom Dele-Bashiru Perm Man City Watford Free
Joao Pedro Perm (Jan 20) Fluminese Watford 2.25
All incoming/outgoing transfers Full 2019-20 squad
3 players to watch out for
Gerard Deulofeu
The La Masia product made his loan at Vicarage Road permanent last summer, and despite injury disrupting the start of his season and a new position at striker ended up top scorer, with some eye catching performances such as his hat trick against Cardiff and his super-sub appearance in the FA Cup Semi Final. With a full pre season and more positional familiarity, he can achieve big things this season.
Etienne Capoue
Last year's fan's Player of the Season is a criminally underrated player by non Watford supporters - the work he does in the defensive midfield brings the best out of players around him. Has struck up an excellent partnership with Doucoure over the past 18 months which should continue into this season.
Domingos Quina
Doubt he'll be starting at home to Brighton, but Quina has all the potential to be a Premier League star. Signed from West Ham on deadline day last year after turning up in the car park ten minutes before the deadline, Quina showed his creatively, comfort with the ball at his feet and ability to hit long range shots with either foot in his handful of appearances last season, and will keep the first team firmly on their toes.
What the fans think
Thanks to /Watford_FC for their help.
How do you think this season will go?
I expect us to finish around mid table. Very quiet transfer window in both regards so far. We have all of the same squad that got us to the cup final and should really have got us into Europe if Deeney, Cathcart and Foster hadn't decided to shit the bed in the final few games of the season; however the other teams around us have significantly strengthened though hard to see us finishing above West Ham, Everton, Wolves, Leicester now.
I’d say we will end up roughly in the same place as last season. We added Craig Dawson, so our defense should be better, but I don’t think we’ll have as good run of form against outside of the top 6 as we did last season. I’d say we will end around 9th place, maybe have a decent cup run again as well.
Last season was fantastic, and everyone will be looking to build on 11th. Another cup run is probable, but I think we'll struggle to improve much in the league. We'll be safe from relegation but are lacking some quality and depth compared to Everton, Wolves and Leicester. In my opinion we'll be fighting for top half with West Ham, Bournemouth and whichever of the promoted clubs hits the ground running, with some strong home games against the top six (Liverpool excluded). A cup exit in the semis to a top 6 team.
Which player is going to be your star of the season and why?
I'd have to go for Deulofeu. He grew into his striker role over the Season, building up a decent partnership with Deeney later on in the Season. He is woeful in the air, isn't as positionally aware like Gray by drifting out wide at times when he needs to stay more central and has a penchant for doing too much rather than take the easier option but he's very quick, has developed a fairly good finish and becoming more consistent in his performances, slowly but surely. Still has a good amount of work to do but made leaps and bounds last Season in converting his role out wide to a central one.
Doucoure. He was usurped by Capoue last season in terms of being our best cm, or even our best player. If he wants to go to a UCL team, as he has stated, then he needs another top season, like he did on 17/18, and I think he will. Deulofeu will want to prove last seasons scoring antics weren’t a fluke. Could also be a breakout season for Domingos Quina.
Star of the season will be Gerard Deulofeu of course but I think Etienne Capoue will quietly have another season as one of the best midfielders outside the top 6 and the same for Ben Foster being one of the best keepers outside the top 6. Del boy being our top scorer. Another name to mention that I hope gets some serious game time and becomes a star of the cups is Domingos Quina, very excited whenever this lad plays.
How do you think the team will line up?
Gracia predominantly uses 4-2-2-2, and has sparingly used 4-2-3-1 last Season. Against QPR in the Friendly very recently 5-3-2 (Wing backs) but we will be using 4-2-2-2 again this Season as our main formation. This is our current squad and probable line up, assuming we sign Sarr.
Foster will be number one but Bachmann has been brought back to challenge. Javi typically plays 4 at the back, expect Dawson to partner Cathcart with some fullback rotation. Deeney and Deulofeu will start together up front most weeks; we rely heavily on their mentality and skill respectively. I'd expect a flat 4 midfield, but Javi does tinker from time to time. Hughes-Capoue-Doucouré-Sarr(?) most likely, with some shakeup to fit in Quina or play Hughes more centrally.
I expect the exact same 4-2-2-2 as last season, but with Dawson substituting in for Mariappa which will look something like this. If Sarr does come as has been strongly suggested, I expect he will take one of Hughes / Pereyra's positions.

Wrap Up

by NickTM

The Manager: I've got to say, Javi Gracia is probably one of the least notable coaches in the league to me. He's just... there. There's no doubting his experience, though, having had spells in Spain, Greece and Russia before plying his trade in the Prem. Last season was about as good as a generally mid-table club can hope for; never in any danger of relegation whatsoever, a highest league finish since the formation of the Premier League, a cup final run and all done with a positive net spend.
The Team: Watford bring to bear a hugely multinational squad, with 17 nations represented in the first team squad alone. A well-balanced side, the hugely-experienced trio of Ben Foster, Craig Cathcart and Adrian Mariappa make up the goalkeeper and centre of defence respectively. Gracia favours something approaching a 4-2-2-2, presumably partially as a way of including all of his talented central midfielders, and so Aboulaye Doucoure, Etienne Capou, Will Hughes and Roberto Pereyra can all be found on the pitch at the same time. Up front, the mercurial Gerard Deulofeu supports Troy Deeney, who is entering his tenth season at the club. It's a strong side across the board, but despite the excellence in the centre of the pitch questions might be being asked of old warhorse Deeney if he gets off to a poor start given his 9 league goal return last season. The addition of Craig Dawson is likely a good one given Mariappa has generally found most of his success at Prem level as a rotational utility player, but it's probably fair to say Cathcart and Dawson comprise a pairing that is merely OK rather than particularly good. It's lucky, then, that Ben Foster remains one of the better keepers in the Premier League behind them.
Why to like them: Gerard Deulofeu is a delight to watch, and to an extent that also includes the entire team as individuals. There are a lot of players in this Watford side that can pull off moments of magic, be it a splitting pass or a tricky run. You've also absolutely got to respect a manager who casually pulls out a 4-2-2-2 like his team is a classic Brazil side. Watford also properly commit to a proper colour scheme and motif but refuse to restrict themselves to boring features like 'only stripes' or the like, which thematically I absolutely appreciate given the ongoing plague of boring strips in football. Isaac Success has a cracking name.
Why to dislike them: Watford fans, lemme be honest, you lot have some problems. First on the list is probably that weird way you're trying to start rivalries with other fanbases because nobody cares about your team. I've seen some Watford fans sniping at Everton of all clubs, which, let's be honest, would result in the worst-named rivalry of all time. You just know that the press would make it the Z-cars derby. There's also the way you all seem to have 'ackshuyally I think you'll find it was only affray' bound to a macro. And then there was the reaction to the FA Cup final, in which the absolutely embarrassing capitulation the team displayed on the pitch was glossed over by that most shithouse of obfuscations: "our fans outsung theirs!". Come on now. You can do better. I believe in you, Watford fans.
Also of note is the ongoing delusion by some members of the media that Watford is somehow in London, which isn't their fault but somehow still irritates. Speaking of the media, Troy Deeney's also a shit cunt who you absolutely know is lining himself up for a post-playing media career as 'the controversial one' on a panel of pundits.
Summary: Watford look like they're in a great place for the foreseeable future, but there's a very definite glass ceiling on the midtable of the Premier League. Their ambition in that regard will be to make it into Europe, but that's as unlikely to manifest consistently as it is for anyone outside of the top six. If you look downwards rather than up, it also seems unlikely for Watford to really be at a risk of relegation given the strength of their side. Much more likely would be a pop at domestic silverware, and Gracia seems to be willing to commit to a deep cup run once more. Whilst cups are by nature unbalanced and risky, a team that's anchored in midtable is often one of the better bets for getting to the final given their ability to play first teamers without risk of losing too much on weekends. Expect Watford to go for it again as they bounce around somewhere between 13th and 8th.

Links

Aston Villa | Sheffield United | Norwich City | Brighton | Southampton | Burnley | Bournemouth | Newcastle | Crystal Palace
submitted by NickTM to soccer [link] [comments]

Team Preview - Manchester City [Premier League 2019-20 - 20/20]

Manchester City

by ibpants

Welcome to the triumphant return of the Premier League Previews, a series where a fan gives an overview of his team for your perusal, and I get an excuse to take pot-shots at other clubs. This will run until the eve of the Premier League, taking a look at each club in turn. Our final preview of the season analyses our reigning champions, Manchester City.
About

Last season

Pos P W D L GF GA GD Points
1 38 32 2 4 95 23 +72 98
It went well. It went very well. After Manchester City’s Centurions season in 2017/18 saw them run away with the title setting all manner of records as they went, there was a lot of expectation that we’d see a much closer race in 2018/19. That proved to be the case as City finished 2 points shy of their record-setting total and only won the league by a single point, yet it was still the second highest points total in Premier League history and was topped off with a unique domestic clean sweep (3 or 4 domestic trophies depending on your feelings about the Community Shield).
The season kicked off with confident 2-0 victories over Chelsea in the Community Shield and Arsenal in the league opener before Kevin De Bruyne’s injury problems began (injury problems that would plague the majority of his season). His absence didn’t prove to be as pivotal as many feared/hoped, however, thanks in no small part to Bernardo Silva’s formidable season.
After the opening months City had dropped just 4 points and were looking strong, and then December happened. The packed month included 9 matches across all competitions and it took its toll as City lost 3 of their 7 Premier League matches.
Heading into January with Liverpool still unbeaten the title looked lost until the top two met at the Etihad. A true heavyweight clash delivered in entertainment and saw City take all three points by the very finest of margins as John Stones made a vital clearance through the legs of Mohamed Salah with just 11mm to spare.
After beating Liverpool City dropped just 3 more points, ending the season on a remarkable 14-game winning streak to claim the first back-to-back Premier League trophy in 10 years.

This Season

While the squad is (on paper) quite comparable to the ones that set both the highest and second highest Premier League points totals in consecutive seasons, the loss of Vincent Kompany is difficult to quantify. Cynics might reasonably point out that City are losing an ageing centre-half who only plays sporadically and is prone to occasional hasty decisions meaning they will just have to give more minutes to a younger centre-half in John Stones, who also appeared sporadically and is prone to occasional hasty decisions. In a strictly material sense that might all be true, but in among Kompany’s hasty decisions was an improbable 30-yard potshot in the 70th minute against Leicester that won the match and kept the title race in City’s hands. It’s his remarkable force of will, his experienced leadership, and his eagerness to carry the weight of the team on his shoulders when no one else can that will be missed with the departure of Kompany and it remains to be seen if there is anyone that will step and lead in the same way.
There’s some change at the back for City this season. Stones and Laporte are expected to be the first choice central pairing, but Otamendi (as the most experienced centre-half in the squad, capable of playing on the right or left side, and probably the best aerial defender in the squad) is likely to be leaned on more this coming season than last. The fourth spot will likely be a straight head-to-head between Fernandinho and the promising young Eric Garcia. At fullback there’s a little more attacking impetus than previously - Zinchenko increasingly looks like a real left back, but Mendy’s injury troubles continue, so Angelino has been brought back to maintain the depth that the outgoing Fabian Delph provided but with more of an attacking mindset. On the right you can expect Walker to finally get some days off with the introduction of another attack-minded option in Joao Cancelo.
The future of the number 6 position looks to finally have been figured out with the signing of Rodri after various misfires in the transfer market and with any luck we’ll have the joy of watching a fully fit Kevin De Bruyne all season. It remains to be seen what role David Silva will play in his final year, especially with Phil Foden needing all the minutes he can get if he is to replace the Spanish stalwart long-term.
Should Sane stay It will be the same again up top with quality depth abound all vying for their place in the matchday XI. Riyad Mahrez began finding his feet at the tail end of 18/19 with a run of strong performances so the hope, should Sane leave, is that Mahrez will continue that form and prove an ample replacement for the upcoming season.
Last season there was a need to prove that the 100 point season wasn’t a fluke. 98 points and 5 out of 5 pieces of domestic silverware later it’s been pretty well established that City probably are in fact that good and may well be able to continue putting up these kinds of numbers until either Pep leaves or the rest of the league adapts (whichever comes first).
Transfers
Highlights
Player Type From To Fee(£m)
Rodri Perm Atletico Madrid Manchester City £62.5m
Joao Cancelo Perm Juventus Manchester City £26m + Danilo
Vincent Kompany Perm Manchester City RSC Anderlecht Free
All incoming/outgoing transfers Full 2019-20 squad
3 players to watch out for
David Silva
Worth watching out for if only because this is likely to be the last Premier League season for one of the league's greats. On top of that, with the departure of Vincent Kompany, David Silva will be the most senior member of the dressing room and is widely expected to take on the captaincy. Despite making his name as an archetypical number 10, David Silva has managed to stand out as a dynamic and modern number 8 - while at 33 he may not be quite the player he once was but he continues to provide much of the creativity in the final third so enjoy him while you can.
Rodri
The number 6 position in general will be one to watch this season. In previous years Fernandinho has been undisputed first choice, but at 34 years of age he can’t last forever. Ilkay Gundogan started to make a case for himself in the run-in last season having finally added a little extra defensive nous to his already outstanding passing range and ended the season as a starter. New signing Rodri (at age 23) appears to be the future of the number 6 role - touted by many as Busquets 2.0 and now training under the same coach that brought Busquets to the world’s attention, Rodri’s ascent seems inevitable, but arriving in a new league and playing rather a different style of football will test his adaptability in the short-term.
Kevin De Bruyne
Not exactly a hidden gem here but your life can only be improved by watching out for a fully fit KDB. De Bruyne was among the very best players in the League (if not world) in 2017/18 but struggled significantly with injuries and missed much of last season. It may seem like a stretch to say that he was “missed” given the levels City reached last season but when he’s in the team City can transition much more efficiently and there’s always a sense that one pass could cut open even the most resolute defence.
What the fans think
Thanks to /MCFC for their help.
How do you think this season will go?
Last season was an unprecedened success, winning every domestic trophy possible. The aim for this season will obviously be to continue on as we have been domestically, and improve in Europe. The past two campaigns have been disappointing, and I think we can do better - but will we? It's hard to say. However, I think we're the most equipped team to fight on two fronts - especially after signing Rodri, in a position we've always lacked cover - so I think retaining the title is feasible, and I'd be happy with an improved performance in Europe.
I think we'll win the league. I think our fixture schedule is fairly kind to us (easier run-in than Liverpool and most of our tricky away games are in the first half of the season when we're usually on fire). I trust our players a lot more this time around - although you could argue that the Old Guard carried us in the final weeks of last season, the younger players have got experience and confidence now, and I think that's invaluable.
Which player is going to be your star of the season and why?
KDB has looked frightening ever since he came off the bench at the FA Cup (not to mention his performance against Tottenham before his last injury). He seems angry and frustrated about last season, as if he's got something to prove. I think he's a shoe-in for our player of the season if he can stay fit. I can also see Jesus and Mahrez really coming into their own this season; both of them suffered from low confidence last season, and I think the summers that they had and their great performances at the end of last season signal a lot of growth from both of them.
I think we'll win the league again. This time around I don't think it'll be a close title race like it was last season. We'll get around 93 points while Liverpool will finish second and get around 88 points. In the FA and League cup, I think we'll win one the two and may get knocked out early in the other one. I think this season in the CL, we'll finally reach the final but lose the final.
Gonna go with Bernardo Silva. Let him play his own game and he is one of the best in the league. You would be hard pressed to find many better in the division. Down and up the pitch he works tirelessly. Never gives up. Gonna be hard to find anyone to outperform him this season. Run, pass, shoot, tackle, he can do it all. Around him he has an aura of a greatness.
How do you think the team will line up?
4-3-3 like always, but with even more depth. Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodri/Dinho, Silva, KdB; Sterling, Aguero, Bernardo, should be our first choice starting XI. Rodri vs Dinho is anyone's guess. If Mahrez steps up, we might see Bernardo moved to the midfield paired with KdB. Aguero will continue to start over Jesus, Nico will likely rotate with Stones and Cancelo (if he comes) will rotate with WalkeZinchenko. We might even see Mendy play a full match before the season ends.
And now we come to the hardest part, predicting the line up. Desert any dreams on consistency at the door. You are going to see a lot of rotation from City this season. Never assume we will have everyone healthy at the same time, but if we do I think this is how we will line up.
4-3-3 formation
Ederson
Walker-Stones-Laporte-Zinchenko
De Bruyne-Rodri-D.Silva
B. Silva-Aguero-Sterling

Wrap Up

by NickTM

The Manager: The legendary Pep Guardiola. Not much to say about him that hasn't already been said at length. A managerial genius, Guardiola's dogmatic adherence to the style of play he passionately believes in is no deterrence to the outright dominance of his teams. With 28 pieces of silverware in his collection as a manager alone, he's as close to a guaranteed title win as you can get from a manager of a top club. Entering his 11th year of top-level manager, his brilliance remains undimmed.
The Team: Simply put, Manchester City's team is terrifying. It's unlikely any club team has brought to bear this level of depth in talent in the Premier League at very least. Ederson holds court between the sticks in his third season at the club, and Aymeric Laporte partners one of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones just in front. Danilo has been replaced by Joao Cancelo at right back, and Oleksandr Zinchenko's highly successful conversion to left back makes him the leading contender for that spot. It's in midfield where the team wins their games, though, a superlative array of talent fronted by Silvas David and Bernardo, held together by Fernandinho (and the newly arrived Rodri) and powered by Ilkay Gündogan's dynamism. An attacking trio containing Raheem Sterling, the supremely reliable Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus will be affected but not brought low by the unfortunate loss of Leroy Sane. That's without even mentioning the brilliance of the returning Kevin De Bruyne, the promise of Phil Foden or the absolute talent of Scott Carson. It is a glittering squad.
Why to like them: Guardiola's teams play football 'the right way' (tm) and whilst their style of play isn't necessarily my favourite, it's hard to not appreciate the sheer fluidity of attack and technical prowess being displayed. Raheem Sterling has also blossomed from the kid with a dodgy agent who sacked off Liverpool at a moment's notice to England's leading attacking talent and icon for the fight against discrimination in football.
Why to dislike them: Their owners essentially launder the image of a brutal, oppressive regime as well as their own grimy reputations simply by owning a successful football team, and it clearly worked for City fans. Personally, despite all the fanboying over their playstyle, I'm not really much of a fan. Pep Guardiola has a tendency to be unbearably smug at times. Also, they're really fucking good, so it's fun to watch them lose.
Summary: Got it in the bag, surely? Man City replaced their major first team loss in Danilo and propped up Fernandinho's advancing age with his heir apparent in Rodri. Their strength in depth continues to be unrivaled, and Raheem Sterling continues to improve as Sergio Aguero has shown no signs of slowing down. The major questions for me revolve first around losing Leroy Sane, which takes away not just some options in depth but also a truly direct runner that City could well miss against certain teams. More notable might be the intangible loss of Vincent Kompany, the City legend departing to Anderlecht as player-manager. Kompany's leadership and will to win were obvious even in one of his numerous spells on the sidelines, and when he got on the pitch he'd produce moments of brilliance that have kept Man City alive when they were faltering - the most recent being that wonderful goal against Leicester that sent them top. It's a strong team with a lot of experienced leaders, but it's hard to calculate the value of such a talisman until he's gone. With all that said, you'd be a fool to bet against them retaining their title, and you have to make them favourites at this early stage.

Links

Aston Villa | Sheffield United | Norwich City | Brighton | Southampton | Burnley | Bournemouth | Newcastle | Crystal Palace | Watford | West Ham | Leicester | Everton | Wolves | Man Utd | Arsenal | Tottenham | Chelsea | Liverpool
submitted by NickTM to soccer [link] [comments]

Monthly F.C. Barcelona News 1/31/2020

Monthly F.C. Barcelona News 1/31/2020
Most Recent Match:
F.C. Barcelona vs Leganes, 5-0 Barcelona WIN! :) Next game: Barcelona vs Levante. February 2 2020
Goals: Barcelona: Antoinne Griezemann 4', Clement Lenglet 27', Lionel Messi 59' and 89' and Arthur Melo 77'.
Post Match Thread HERE.
F.C. Barcelona News
Details Of Messi Contract Desire And FC Barcelona Future Exclusively Revealed
As important as ever last night at the Camp Nou, in a 5-0 Copa del Rey last 16 victory over Leganes in which he bagged a brace, Lionel Messi kept FC Barcelona’s hunt for all three trophies on offer alive but his future beyond the summer remains a matter of intrigue.
Last November, in an interview to the Associated Press, president Josep Bartomeu confessed in an Associated Press interview that he wished to offer the 32-year-old an ‘indefinite’ contract that would have him see out the rest of his playing days at the Camp Nou.
‘I always make a comparison with Pelé,’ explained Bartomeu. ‘Pelé was a man from only one club [in Brazil]... [and] I have no doubt that after Messi ends his career as a footballer, he will remain linked to this club for the rest of his life.’
‘Leo Messi's contract ends in 2021,’ he went on. ‘But it will surely be the will of all parties involved, if they feel strong and ambitious, to extend this contract indefinitely.’
Shortly after, sporting director Eric Abidal gave his own exclusive interviews to SPORT and Mundo Deportivo, in which he was naturally broached on the subject too.
‘For us he is a key player,’ explained Abidal of his former teammate from the Pep Guardiola ‘Tiki-taka’ dynasty. ‘He has this option to leave on his contract, but I know that the president is talking to his representatives to close the case once and for all,’ it was insisted.
This enraged Miguel Rico, a leading journalist from the latter-mentioned daily newspaper, who penned a scathing piece entitled ‘Talking But Not Negotiating’ in response.
‘The truth, to be precise about the case, is that Barcelona, ​​through President Bartomeu, and Messi, represented by his father, are not negotiating,’ Rico claimed.
‘They speak of the future fluently, as they have always done, but negotiating, what is said of sitting face to face to discuss the conditions [of a new deal], they are not. Nor do they know when they will sit down [to do it], as they are the only ones that mark the times [and meetings],’ Rico pointed out.
Lifting his sixth Ballon d’or last month, Messi took the opportunity to finally speak out on the matter himself. ‘The people at the club know me,’ he said, golden ball trophy in tow.
‘They know there's no problem beyond what the contract says. What I feel for this club goes beyond any signature or any role. So there isn't a problem,’ he stressed.
A lot has happened since then, though, such as the firing of Ernesto Valverde just over a fortnight ago, and according to Rico in a special report published this morning in Spain, Messi, who is free to leave at the end of the current campaign despite having another year-and-a-half to run, has already made up his mind.
“[It’s] silly and even sillier, [that] we are at the gates of February and Leo Messi can decide in June if he runs out on the contract that links him to Barça until 2021 or if, on the contrary, he extinguishes the relationship. It’s something that worries [me] to write, grieves [you] to read and [makes you] cower to imagine.”
A man of principle, it is alleged that Messi, despite the indefinite contract ‘benefitting him economically’, will only commit to ‘extending his current status year after year’. ‘That is, renew one more, plus one more indefinitely but reserving the option to cancel unilaterally every June 30,’ Rico clarified.
Revealing on the podium in Paris that the length of time he stays in the game depends on how he feels physically, the news of Messi’s intentions will come as bittersweet to fans.
Above all, if not accepting ‘indefinite’ terms, the La Masia graduate could at least sign for three to five seasons - i.e. what remains of his peak - as such an arrangment leaves the door open to returning to Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, or, in the unthinkable, joining another European rival.
For Bartomeu, entering the last year of his own tenure, it is a defeat given that he wished to pull off this coup to define a legacy.
Now all FCB top brass can do is sign the best players possible to accompany their all-time great and make Messi want to stay - starting with close friend Neymar.
Source.
Lionel Messi
Agreement with SC Braga for the transfer of Trincão (Will join the team on July 1 2020)
FC Barcelona and SC Braga have reached an agreement for the transfer of the player Francisco Trincão who will join the club on 1 July 2020. The transfer fee is 31 million euros and the player will sign a contract with the Club for the next five seasons, until the end of the 2014/25 campaign with a buy-out clause of 500 million euros.
Youth and talent up front
Francisco Trincão was born on 29 December 1999 in Viana do Castelo, Portugal. He began his career in the youth teams at Vianense and FC Porto before landing at SC Braga. On 28 December 2018 he made his first team debut for the Portuguese club against Vitoria FC in a league cup match.Since his debut, Trincão has made 29 appearances for the first team, scoring three goals. In the current season he has established himself as a key part of the team, playing 21 times and scoring three goals and providing six assists.
The player has represented Portugal at various levels and is currently a member of the U21 national squad. With the U19 team he was part of the side that won the European Championships in 2018 and ended the tournament as top scorer with five goals and top assist provider with three.
Left footed but can play anywhere
The young Portuguese forward can play anywhere up front although he usually features on the wing, on either flank despite being left footed. Trincão is quick and technically gifted with a vision that means he is a great creator of goals as well. The new Barça player also has the ability to take defenders on with his dribbling skills.
Source.
Francisco Trincao
‘A Step Forward’: How The Catalan Press Reacted To FC Barcelona’s 5-0 Leganes Win
Their biggest win under new coach Quique Setien, FC Barcelona thrashed relegation-threatened Leganes by five goals to nil in a last 16 Copa del Rey clash at the Camp Nou on Thursday evening.
Naturally, on Friday, the print editions of Catalonia’s two main sports newspapers - Mundo Deportivo and SPORT - have reacted to the result much more positively than the humbling 2-0 defeat to Valencia at the Mestalla last weekend.
‘Barça improves’ was what Mundo Deportivo director Santi Nolla called his column this morning and within it, he wrote of how the team had ‘gained confidence with a win and a good feeling’.
‘Setien's eleven returned to a more classic 4-3-3, with [Nelson] Semedo on the right side and a more direct [brand of] football,’ it was noted, before Nolla pointed out that a mixture of lowly opposition and tough away trips in their upcoming fixtures will allow the Blaugrana ‘to assimilate ideas’ prior to a Champions League showdown with Napoli.
Sergi Sole spoke of a ‘night of revindication’ where the previously-dropped likes of Clement Lenglet and Semedo shone while Frenkie de Jong ‘recovered’ a version of himself ‘closer to the one that brought him from Ajax to the Camp Nou’ in a ‘Valverde era’ 4-3-3.
Joan Poqui wrote that Barça had ‘taken a step forward’ in a formation in which the players ‘felt more comfortable’. As a result, their game was ‘dynamic, with rapid mobility of the ball and with greater intensity’.
‘Like this, yes!’ SPORT had splashed across its front cover, while Nolla’s counterpart Ernest Folch penned a piece entitled ‘Welcome to the real world, Quique’.
‘The new Quique Setien project yesterday received a valuable and necessary balloon of oxygen,’ quipped Folch. ‘The value [of it] was not so much a loose and foreseeable victory, at home and against a clearly inferior team, [but rather] the capacity of adaptation that Setien has had after the Mestalla collapse: the Blaugrana coach showed yesterday that he has the ability to correct his initial bet [a 3-5-2] and adapt it to reality’.
‘Some purists may reproach him for renouncing his ideals and recycling Barça to the same point it was at with Valverde. But the only truth is that the team was much more vertical yesterday without losing its identity at all. Rectifying is often a sign of intelligence,’ Folch stressed.
Pichi Alonso noted that 20 minutes was all that was needed to see off Los Pepineros, ranked 19th in La Liga, ‘who seemed to be eliminated’ from the competition before even taking to the pitch.
Though it was a ‘comfortable victory with a win and total possession’, Alonso claimed that there were ‘people who got bored’ with the 5-0 pummeling.
On Sunday then, it is Setien and his men’s job to entertain fans during a visit from mid-table Levante. Then, next week, there will be no respite at all considering a Copa del Rey quarter-final clash away at Athletic Bilbao and a tough road trip to the tactician’s former club Real Betis in the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Source.
F.C. Barcelona
The only time FC Barcelona have played a one off cup tie at home
On Thursday Camp Nou will see Barça host Leganés in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey. With the competition's new format, the tie will be decided over just one match with the draw handing the blaugranes home advantage against 'los pepineros', something that has not happened in the knockout tournament for some considerable time.
Big win over Girona at Les Corts
There has never been a one off knockout tie at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey, the last for FC Barcelona at home came at their former home of Les Corts. That match came in the 1948/49 season in what was then known as the Copa del Generalíssimo in the last 16 against local rivals Girona. Barça's opponents that day were in the Second Division and the blaugranes handed them a 9-0 defeat thanks to a hat-trick from Nicolau, braces from Seguer and Canal and goals from Marcos Aurelio and Basora.
That season the cup competition was over two legs but Girona took advantage of a rule introduced just for that season that allowed them to opt for a one legged tie in return for compensation, in this case from 150,000 pesetas from FC Barcelona.
After overcoming Granada in the quarter-finals, Barça were finally knocked out of the cup in the semi-finals, losing 5-4 on aggregate over two legs to eventual winners Valencia. Nevertheless, the season was a successful one for the blaugranes as they ended the campaign as league champions and as winners of the Copa Eva Duarte and the Copa Latina.
Source.
F.C. Barcelona 1948/49
submitted by TheRealPetross to FutbolClubBarcelona [link] [comments]

Monthly F.C Barcelona News. 1/31/2020 This post may be updated with more and new news

Monthly F.C Barcelona News. 1/31/2020 This post may be updated with more and new news

Most Recent Match:

F.C. Barcelona vs Leganes, 5-0 Barcelona WIN! :) Next game: Barcelona vs Levante. February 2 2020
Goals: Barcelona: Antoinne Griezemann 4', Clement Lenglet 27', Lionel Messi 59' and 89' and Arthur Melo 77'.
Post Match Thread HERE.

F.C. Barcelona News

Details Of Messi Contract Desire And FC Barcelona Future Exclusively Revealed
As important as ever last night at the Camp Nou, in a 5-0 Copa del Rey last 16 victory over Leganes in which he bagged a brace, Lionel Messi kept FC Barcelona’s hunt for all three trophies on offer alive but his future beyond the summer remains a matter of intrigue.
Last November, in an interview to the Associated Press, president Josep Bartomeu confessed in an Associated Press interview that he wished to offer the 32-year-old an ‘indefinite’ contract that would have him see out the rest of his playing days at the Camp Nou.
‘I always make a comparison with Pelé,’ explained Bartomeu. ‘Pelé was a man from only one club [in Brazil]... [and] I have no doubt that after Messi ends his career as a footballer, he will remain linked to this club for the rest of his life.’
‘Leo Messi's contract ends in 2021,’ he went on. ‘But it will surely be the will of all parties involved, if they feel strong and ambitious, to extend this contract indefinitely.’
Shortly after, sporting director Eric Abidal gave his own exclusive interviews to SPORT and Mundo Deportivo, in which he was naturally broached on the subject too.
‘For us he is a key player,’ explained Abidal of his former teammate from the Pep Guardiola ‘Tiki-taka’ dynasty. ‘He has this option to leave on his contract, but I know that the president is talking to his representatives to close the case once and for all,’ it was insisted.
This enraged Miguel Rico, a leading journalist from the latter-mentioned daily newspaper, who penned a scathing piece entitled ‘Talking But Not Negotiating’ in response.
‘The truth, to be precise about the case, is that Barcelona, ​​through President Bartomeu, and Messi, represented by his father, are not negotiating,’ Rico claimed.
‘They speak of the future fluently, as they have always done, but negotiating, what is said of sitting face to face to discuss the conditions [of a new deal], they are not. Nor do they know when they will sit down [to do it], as they are the only ones that mark the times [and meetings],’ Rico pointed out.
Lifting his sixth Ballon d’or last month, Messi took the opportunity to finally speak out on the matter himself. ‘The people at the club know me,’ he said, golden ball trophy in tow.
‘They know there's no problem beyond what the contract says. What I feel for this club goes beyond any signature or any role. So there isn't a problem,’ he stressed.
A lot has happened since then, though, such as the firing of Ernesto Valverde just over a fortnight ago, and according to Rico in a special report published this morning in Spain, Messi, who is free to leave at the end of the current campaign despite having another year-and-a-half to run, has already made up his mind.
“[It’s] silly and even sillier, [that] we are at the gates of February and Leo Messi can decide in June if he runs out on the contract that links him to Barça until 2021 or if, on the contrary, he extinguishes the relationship. It’s something that worries [me] to write, grieves [you] to read and [makes you] cower to imagine.”
A man of principle, it is alleged that Messi, despite the indefinite contract ‘benefitting him economically’, will only commit to ‘extending his current status year after year’. ‘That is, renew one more, plus one more indefinitely but reserving the option to cancel unilaterally every June 30,’ Rico clarified.
Revealing on the podium in Paris that the length of time he stays in the game depends on how he feels physically, the news of Messi’s intentions will come as bittersweet to fans.
Above all, if not accepting ‘indefinite’ terms, the La Masia graduate could at least sign for three to five seasons - i.e. what remains of his peak - as such an arrangment leaves the door open to returning to Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, or, in the unthinkable, joining another European rival.
For Bartomeu, entering the last year of his own tenure, it is a defeat given that he wished to pull off this coup to define a legacy.
Now all FCB top brass can do is sign the best players possible to accompany their all-time great and make Messi want to stay - starting with close friend Neymar.
Source.
Lionel Messi
Agreement with SC Braga for the transfer of Trincão (Will join the team on July 1 2020)
FC Barcelona and SC Braga have reached an agreement for the transfer of the player Francisco Trincão who will join the club on 1 July 2020. The transfer fee is 31 million euros and the player will sign a contract with the Club for the next five seasons, until the end of the 2014/25 campaign with a buy-out clause of 500 million euros.
Youth and talent up front
Francisco Trincão was born on 29 December 1999 in Viana do Castelo, Portugal. He began his career in the youth teams at Vianense and FC Porto before landing at SC Braga. On 28 December 2018 he made his first team debut for the Portuguese club against Vitoria FC in a league cup match.Since his debut, Trincão has made 29 appearances for the first team, scoring three goals. In the current season he has established himself as a key part of the team, playing 21 times and scoring three goals and providing six assists.
The player has represented Portugal at various levels and is currently a member of the U21 national squad. With the U19 team he was part of the side that won the European Championships in 2018 and ended the tournament as top scorer with five goals and top assist provider with three.
Left footed but can play anywhere
The young Portuguese forward can play anywhere up front although he usually features on the wing, on either flank despite being left footed. Trincão is quick and technically gifted with a vision that means he is a great creator of goals as well. The new Barça player also has the ability to take defenders on with his dribbling skills.
Source.

Francisco Trincao
‘A Step Forward’: How The Catalan Press Reacted To FC Barcelona’s 5-0 Leganes Win
Their biggest win under new coach Quique Setien, FC Barcelona thrashed relegation-threatened Leganes by five goals to nil in a last 16 Copa del Rey clash at the Camp Nou on Thursday evening.
Naturally, on Friday, the print editions of Catalonia’s two main sports newspapers - Mundo Deportivo and SPORT - have reacted to the result much more positively than the humbling 2-0 defeat to Valencia at the Mestalla last weekend.
‘Barça improves’ was what Mundo Deportivo director Santi Nolla called his column this morning and within it, he wrote of how the team had ‘gained confidence with a win and a good feeling’.
‘Setien's eleven returned to a more classic 4-3-3, with [Nelson] Semedo on the right side and a more direct [brand of] football,’ it was noted, before Nolla pointed out that a mixture of lowly opposition and tough away trips in their upcoming fixtures will allow the Blaugrana ‘to assimilate ideas’ prior to a Champions League showdown with Napoli.
Sergi Sole spoke of a ‘night of revindication’ where the previously-dropped likes of Clement Lenglet and Semedo shone while Frenkie de Jong ‘recovered’ a version of himself ‘closer to the one that brought him from Ajax to the Camp Nou’ in a ‘Valverde era’ 4-3-3.
Joan Poqui wrote that Barça had ‘taken a step forward’ in a formation in which the players ‘felt more comfortable’. As a result, their game was ‘dynamic, with rapid mobility of the ball and with greater intensity’.
‘Like this, yes!’ SPORT had splashed across its front cover, while Nolla’s counterpart Ernest Folch penned a piece entitled ‘Welcome to the real world, Quique’.
‘The new Quique Setien project yesterday received a valuable and necessary balloon of oxygen,’ quipped Folch. ‘The value [of it] was not so much a loose and foreseeable victory, at home and against a clearly inferior team, [but rather] the capacity of adaptation that Setien has had after the Mestalla collapse: the Blaugrana coach showed yesterday that he has the ability to correct his initial bet [a 3-5-2] and adapt it to reality’.
‘Some purists may reproach him for renouncing his ideals and recycling Barça to the same point it was at with Valverde. But the only truth is that the team was much more vertical yesterday without losing its identity at all. Rectifying is often a sign of intelligence,’ Folch stressed.
Pichi Alonso noted that 20 minutes was all that was needed to see off Los Pepineros, ranked 19th in La Liga, ‘who seemed to be eliminated’ from the competition before even taking to the pitch.
Though it was a ‘comfortable victory with a win and total possession’, Alonso claimed that there were ‘people who got bored’ with the 5-0 pummeling.
On Sunday then, it is Setien and his men’s job to entertain fans during a visit from mid-table Levante. Then, next week, there will be no respite at all considering a Copa del Rey quarter-final clash away at Athletic Bilbao and a tough road trip to the tactician’s former club Real Betis in the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Source.
F.C. Barcelona
The only time FC Barcelona have played a one off cup tie at home
On Thursday Camp Nou will see Barça host Leganés in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey. With the competition's new format, the tie will be decided over just one match with the draw handing the blaugranes home advantage against 'los pepineros', something that has not happened in the knockout tournament for some considerable time.
Big win over Girona at Les Corts
There has never been a one off knockout tie at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey, the last for FC Barcelona at home came at their former home of Les Corts. That match came in the 1948/49 season in what was then known as the Copa del Generalíssimo in the last 16 against local rivals Girona. Barça's opponents that day were in the Second Division and the blaugranes handed them a 9-0 defeat thanks to a hat-trick from Nicolau, braces from Seguer and Canal and goals from Marcos Aurelio and Basora.
That season the cup competition was over two legs but Girona took advantage of a rule introduced just for that season that allowed them to opt for a one legged tie in return for compensation, in this case from 150,000 pesetas from FC Barcelona.
After overcoming Granada in the quarter-finals, Barça were finally knocked out of the cup in the semi-finals, losing 5-4 on aggregate over two legs to eventual winners Valencia. Nevertheless, the season was a successful one for the blaugranes as they ended the campaign as league champions and as winners of the Copa Eva Duarte and the Copa Latina.
Source.

F.C. Barcelona 1948/49
submitted by TheRealPetross to FutbolClubBarcelona [link] [comments]

/r/Championship's Championship season review and run-in preview - Part 3 (Brentford, Swansea, Stoke, QPR, Birmingham, Reading, Wigan, Millwall, Bolton, Ipswich)

Part 1 here - Part 2 here

13. Brentford by Johnsitton (plus thoughts from s0ngsforthedeaf)

Manager: Dean Smith until October then replaced by Thomas Frank
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?:
I’ll be honest I had us as favourites to make playoffs and dark horses to go up automatically. Of course, it was difficult to predict as I didn’t know how the three relegated sides would do.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: In short: Good – Very Bad – Good – Okay
First 7 games were good with great performances. We were around the top 2 for most of that time and betting favourites to win the league at one point. Slowly started to lose steam and were winless in our last 6 when Dean Smith left us for Aston Villa in October.
Thomas Frank, Dean Smith’s assistant, took over and basically continued with the exact same system that was already in place. He had an unfortunate start, with the death of our very young technical director Robert Rowan clearly affecting the whole club from the staff down to most of the players, who had a good relationship with him. A few key injuries on top of that as well didn’t do him any favours.
He was dangerously close to getting sacked when we picked up only 4 out of 30 possible points in his first 10 matches in charge, which saw us drop down to 19th (3 points above the relegation zone). He then made some big tactical and personal changes and turned it around in late December with a hugely needed home win against Bolton that kickstarted a 10-match unbeaten run with mostly great performances.
With Derby and Bristol City dropping points we started to catch up to the playoff places which seemed impossible in December but still were never really able to gain the full momentum necessary for a playoff charge due to away defeats to teams we would easily have beaten at home (Nott. Forest, Sheff. Wed.) and consecutive losses to Sheffield United (A.) and West Brom (H.) in March.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics:
Started the season with Dean Smith’s 4-1-2-3 (Transfermarkt has it as a 4-1-4-1 but I don’t like the sound of that) with McEachran as holding midfielder behind Sawyers and MacLeod. This worked well initially but with our fullbacks usually pushing up high and McEachran’s defensive weakness (he is not a natural holding midfielder and struggled off the ball) we were starting to get exposed on the counter attack with our centre backs left isolated too often. We were still moving the ball well and dominated possession though.
We continued playing with this system and only minor personal changes. On top of that we really (and this can’t be understated) struggled at clearing the ball out of our box. There would be at least 5-10 minutes in every match with just calamitous defending against set pieces or crosses from open play which cost us at least one goal every game even if we dominated for the rest of the match.
Once we hit rock bottom in December and Thomas Frank was close to getting the sack, he switched to 3 at the back in a decisive match at home against Bolton. We barely won and kept the new formation since then. It’s a 3-4-3 with 3 centre halves and two central midfielders in Sawyers and Mokotjo.
This allows our wingbacks a lot more freedom to go forward with the double pivot creating from deep and dictating play while at the same time maintaining defensive solidity. The line-up shows our best 11. Unfortunately, Henry is out injured and has been replaced by Odubajo, who is alright but sometimes seems to slow our attack down a little bit by losing possession too often. We also have Sergi Canos who really shouldn’t be sitting on the bench in the Championship as he is absolute quality on both wings and started to fill in for Dalsgaard as right wingback and did a fantastic job there.
u/s0ngsforthedeaf: yeah, the switch to 343 was really crucial and basically the tactical story of the season. Despite previously being considered a 'possession' or 'progressive' team (true), the 4123 began to falter under Frank (Smith wouldve encountered problems had he stayed Im sure). The problem was the midfield 3 simply not doing enough, with McCaechran, as nice technique as he has, not really being an expansive enough playmaker, and having zero physical presence. Teams were soaking up pressure and countering effectively. So while 343 is nominally more 'defensive'...as soon as it was on the pitch it made sense. The star front 3 can to attack. The fullbacks can roam upfield freely. Sawyers is just better in a midfield 2, he has space to play with and there is less focus on the possession game. The one weakness is depth and experience at centreback, which isnt helped by squad turnover. But the new players will be up for it next season.
Best/worst/memorable moments:
This is a difficult one as we had many absolute top performances this season and some horrendous ones as well.
Personally, I’d say the best moment was either coming back an early 0-2 against Blackburn to win 5-2 or Maupay scoring a deserved late winner against Dean Smith’s Aston Villa in February. Honourable mentions go to our opening match against Rotherham (5-2 win) which was probably the most optimistic I’ve ever seen Griffin Park and beating Middlesbrough away (which we haven’t done since 1938).
Worst moment was definitely the 2-0 defeat away to Hull in December which was Thomas Frank’s 10th game in charge and his 8th defeat. Horrendous defensive performance conceding an early goal which allowed them to sit back and watch us do nothing for 90 minutes.
u/s0ngsforthedeaf: Beating Hull 5-1 was very satisfying, because the front 3 showed what they could do with some accuracy!
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?:
Wigan (A), Swansea (A), Derby (H), Ipswich (H), Reading (A), Millwall (A), Leeds (H), Bolton (A), Preston (H)
Not nervous at all because there’s not really anything to lose here. We are 8 points off playoffs with a game in hand. All but one of our remaining away matches are against teams fighting relegation and with our away record I don’t necessarily see us beating all of them (even though we have the quality to do so).
At home we can beat anyone so ideally, we will pick up maybe 20 points out of our last 9 matches. It will probably be closer to 15 or fewer in reality but if we play at 100% of what we’re capable of then who knows. Thing is we have a lot of teams ahead of us which makes it difficult for us to overtake them all.
Give us about a 10% chance max. of making playoffs. (*Edit - we lost to Swansea midweek...yeah, its over)
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..[and if you don't you will]:
If we somehow make playoffs, we’d be on such a terrific run that I’d actually give us a chance of winning especially if we play Sheffield United who have a similarly bad record at playoffs. About 1% chance of us going up this season.
Finishing position prediction: League prediction is almost impossible with how close it is from 6th to 15th. Reckon in the top half of the table around 10th.
Rival watch and league prediction:
Our two games against QPR sum up both of our seasons perfectly. In November they beat us because we were shit and they were good and in February we beat them because they were shit and we were good. Funny to see how they somehow managed to go on an even worse run of form than we did and are now below us in the table.

14. Swansea City by Lerkot

Manager: Graham Potter
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: People sort of expected the club to give new manager Graham Potter a bit of money to rebuild the team last summer. However, the summer went by and not much happened, and when the transfer window closed most of us agreed that a mid-table finish would be fine as long as we developed our squad and our young players.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: A lot of up and downs. We are mid-table as expected but we have played some very nice football and a lot of our youngsters have proven to be better than we could hope for, while other players have shown that maybe they should have gotten more opportunities in the Premier League. The team seems very harmonic, we have one of the youngest squads in the English league system and seem very humble and hungy and we have one of the best coaches in England.
Outside of the pitch the club is in chaos. We have a very strained relationship to the owners.
While most of us love the current set of players, it is obvious that we are very thin in some positions and the disappointing January transfer window was not worthy of a reasonably big club like Swansea. Kicking the chairman, almost giving away one of our best players to Leeds, letting all of our staff know that they might be fired in the summer, an economical loss of £65m... we have a lot of issues. Any other manager choice, and we could very well have been the new Sunderland. So far it has been a season showing us that the future is both bright and worrying. Players like Connor Roberts, Joe Rodon and Daniel James have gone from being absolutely nothing to playing international football.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: MuldeNordfeldt - Roberts, Rodon, Van der Hoorn, Naughton - Grimes, Fer - James, Celina, Routledge - McBurnie We have played different tactics and used a lot of players but this is probably our strongest lineup not counting Martin Olsson who got injured in December and will miss the rest of the season.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: No, our season is more or less dead. We are very unlikely to reach the playoffs and wont get relegated. I expect good football and hopefully we could climb a few positions and that our players keep developing.
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..[and if you don't you will]: The harsh reality is that we will stay in the Championship and since our owners won't invest in the club, we need to sell our best players and invest very litry little. Our very young and very talented team will likely be torn into pieces. It will be a summer of fear rather than hope.
Rival watch and league prediction: We are looking forward to the derby.

15. Stoke City by SekZBoiAlex1986

Manager: Gary Rowett was sacked in December, after that Nathan Jones
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Automatic promotion. With our Premier League team in tact (minus Shaqiri and Ndiaye), the biggest wage bill in the league and over £40m spent in the summer on transfers I don’t think it’s arrogant to say that we had high expectations. We were bookies favourites for a reason.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: Well we’re not going to get relegated, so it’s not a total disaster, but this season has been incredibly disappointing. We’ve not clicked at any point. Even during a ten game unbeaten run under Gary Rowett we only won four games.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: I’m not sure where to start here. Our starting line up has been changing all season. Only Jack Butland and Joe Allen have played in every league game.
Neither manager has wanted to play with two strikers, but with so little pace (of passing or movement) in midfield we’ve never been able to dominate games even with an extra man in the middle.
We are totally risk averse and will pass sideways or backwards for eternity rather than attempt a dangerous ball forward (with the exception of Charlie Adam). However we looked different in our last game at home to Sheffield Wednesday. So maybe it’s a sign of things to come.
Best/worst/memorable moments: Best - Beating Derby 2-1 after going down to ten men in the first half
Worst - 0-3 down at home to Wigan in August with Nick Powell looking like Maradona. Absolutely embarrassing. Even this early into the season we started to realise that things weren’t going to plan.
Memorable - 0-2 at home to Bristol City on New Year’s Day. Very toxic atmosphere as Rowett lost the majority of the Stoke fans.
Key stat: We have the fourth best defence and third worst attack in terms of goals scored / conceded. This sums up our problem this season, especially under Rowett. We’ve had very attacking intent resulting in few goals.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Blackburn (A), Swansea (A), Rotherham (H), Middlesbrough (A), Norwich (H), Millwall (A) and Sheff Utd (H)
Considering that we’ve drawn our last four games 0-0 we might as well draw the last seven 0-0 and set a world record.
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..and if you dont you will:..Not much to stay here with a boring mid-table finish. I can’t wait for the season to end.
Rival watch and league prediction: West Brom are our only historic rival in the league. Whilst I disagree with them sacking Darren Moore I do kind of understand the logic if they had a great replacement in mind... which they don’t. So no promotion for them.
Finishing position prediction: 12th
I think we may squeeze into the top half. Fingers crossed we can rebuild the squad in the summer.

16. Blackburn Rovers no review submitted

17. Queens Park Rangers by Tiggy10

Team, Manager: Queens Park Rangers, John Eustace (Caretaker manager, took over from Steve McClaren April 1st)
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Staying up I suppose? Probably our famed mid-table mediocrity.Anything higher than 16th would have been a bonus. Main focus of the season was to stabilize and develop youth.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far? Well. At the time of writing Shteve is the latest manager to pass through the revolving doors at Loftus Road and I think that just about sums up the season. We've broken some "hoo-doos" which have been a highlight of the season so far but on the whole we've lost a LOT of games and badly, whether that was through bad luck, poor officiation or (and mainly) poor play.
After a dreadful start we hit a purple patch and got carried away with perhaps being a surprise dark horse for a playoff push along with an FA cup run. AN ACTUAL CUP RUN! But being QPR, all hopes were squashed and reality came tumbling down. But here we are with a handful of games to go, looking nervously over our shoulders once again.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: With big losses to our defense in the form of Nedum Onuoha and Jack Robinson we shouldn't have been surprised to see a slight downfall in the quality of our defense. Boy were we wrong. The first few games we were torn apart. Trialling a 4231 for the dismal start and then changing to a standard 442 to achieve our first win of the season. It's difficult to say if the change in form was due to the big signings we had bought in or the new formation, but it worked.
Also a change of keeper from Matt Ingram to Joe Lumley has proved to be instrumental. Gotta feel bad for Ingram, but if you are riddled with mistakes, you aren't going to play much.
It is difficult to pinpoint what the focus of the team is. Wells is a tricky striker who can beat a man, Freeman is the creative outlet and Eze was/is likewise. When big Matt Smith is on, the game plan is simple.
http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=hy9vy2 Our best starting XI? Bright Osayi-Sammuel misses out here only due to lack of game time, otherwise he can seem like one of the only players giving it his all. Rangel and Cameron have been revelations, we have sorely missed them through injury and as such our performances have suffered without them. Grant Hall has had a torrid time with injury over the last two years and quite frankly has fewer mistakes in him than Joel Lynch. Eze started well but has not achieved the level of expectation the fans had hoped for, who knows why he's tailed off towards the end of the season? He's still very young though, and has a lot to learn.
Best/worst/memorable moments: No prizes for anyone who guessed the shambles at the Hawthorns was the worst moment of the season. Losing 7-1 is quite frankly embarrassing, Enough said.
Highlights would include our cup run. Beating Brentford 3-2 at home. And finally. FINALLY winning at the City Ground 1-0.
Key stat: On average we commit the most fouls per game (14.7) and coincidentally, we've conceded the most penalties this season (7). Poor Timing.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Norwich (A), Millwall (A), Swansea (H), Blackburn (H), Derby (A), Nottingham Forest (H), Sheff Wednesday (A)
Boy I would love to say we can get another point this season but I am skeptical. We couldn't beat Rotherham or Bolton at home. We need a couple of wins to ease the nerves, but at this point in time we may be sweating and looking at results elsewhere to decide our fate.
Despite this though I would not entirely be surprised to nick a point away at Norwich, because we just do stupid things like that when we are in dismal form. I'd much rather go down this season than next. I can't keep doing this skin of your teeth stuff.
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..and if you don't you will..if QPR don't get relegated I wouldn't be surprised, we've thankfully got a bit of a cushion. If we do get relegated, quite frankly we deserve it based on 2019 alone with 1 league win, apologies, Leeds.
Predicted League Position: 18th
Rival watch and league prediction: Local rivals Brentford will be here next season, with or without us, I think they've left it a little too late to chase the play-offs, and even if they did make it in I can't see them beating others around them to go to Wembley. It's the teams below us we need to focus on. I think all the teams above us will be fine. The bottom three (Rotherham, Bolton, Ipswich) look set to go down in my opinion.
Going up has got to be Norwich, and fully deserved, stuck with Farke and it has paid off. Good luck in the Prem as champions. Leeds will get second. and Sheff Utd will win play-offs (I cannot believe Washington will be playing for a premiership team).

18. Birmingham City by 2ej

Manager: Garry Monk
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Mid table stability was my hope after two straight season of chaos, both with last day relegation fights. Monk had gotten the players playing at the end of last season and we looked a genuinely good team so just to take that through to this season and not be constantly looking over our shoulders. Then news of a transfer embargo came out which resigned me to another poor season, but why worry about embargo's when you have owners who just sign players anyway?
Mini season review - Calling this season a roller coaster ride is putting it mildly. 0 wins in the first 8 league games was frustrating because we genuinely battered teams in this period. 2-2 opening day of the season against Norwich where Hernandez scored a last second equaliser, goalless draws against Swansea (H) & Sheff Utd (A), 2-0 up away at Forest with 10 minutes to go and only drawing, missing a penalty straight after going 1-0 against WBA. All these made me feel like the season was cursed. Then in our 9th game we beat then league leaders Leeds away 2-1, funny league isn't it? Shortly after this we steamroll teams in October and everything's looking rosy.
Get to November and the wheels fall off ever so slightly. Plagued with injuries and a small squad we lose to Derby, surrender a 2-0 half time lead to Hull ending 3-3 and then lost to the Villa 4-2 where any complaints I had about the officiating were rendered moot after we let Hutton run from what felt like two different postcodes to score the 4th. As has been typical with this season for the most part we bounced back straight away taking 13 of the next 18 points on offer, taking us through Christmas and a real belief that we could sneak in to the top 6.
Then January happened. 2 points from 12, including an absolute lesson in football by Norwich and a last minute equaliser by Swansea in a 3-3 classic which underlined the spirit in the team (1-1 at half time and down to 10 men). Moving in to February we then bounced back again with victories over Forest & QPR, the latter being a 4-3 classic in which Lee Camp saved a last minute penalty. Again we were on the fringes of the top 6 and looking optimistic at an outside shot at the top 6.
Then March happened! (seeing a trend here?) 0 points from 12, more opposition players assaulted than goals scored and the cherry on the delightful sundae is a 9 point deduction for breaching P&S rules, ensuring what was looking like a boring mid table finish is now our annual relegation fight.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: Monk has predominantly used a flat 4-4-2 system in which we're happy for other teams to have the ball in their half, but as soon as they start to venture forward they're swarmed by us. Very effective against teams who like to pass it round. When we have the ball the main tactic is to chuck it up to Juke up front and have him hold it up to allow Adams & the wingers to be brought in to play. Monk has experimented with a diamond formation where Jota plays the number 10 in behind the two strikers which was used for the first time against QPR away and caused us to be 4-1 up at half time. This has since been shelved however as we were leaking goals using it. Adams has been getting all the plaudits, and they're fully deserved but Jutkiewicz is my player of the season. The man runs his bollocks off every game for the team and has 10 goals and 10 assists so far, great return from the big man.
Most used team - http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=hy9d3
Best/worst/memorable moments: Best I've seen us play is easily the first 45 away to QPR, which is also the most memorable moment when Camp saved the penalty in the last minute - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYd51nIeADA
The worst has to be the 0-1 home loss to the Villa, not for the loss itself as you get used to losing to them lot but for what happened on the day.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: WBA (A), Leeds (H), Sheff Utd (H), Ipswich (A), Derby (H), Rotherham (A), Wigan (H), Reading (A)
Horrible next 3 fixtures against 3 of the top 6, and two of the top 3. After that we only have to play 1 team in the top half and even then Derby are in a horrible run of form and it's at home. Not nervous right now as we're good enough to get the bare minimum of 5 points that would pretty much guarantee safety.
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..and if you dont you will.. Promotion is 100% off the table, surviving relegation should be a formality. We will sell Adams in the summer for a fee which should be over 20 million, allowing us to get the P&S monkey off our back and hopefully have a little bet left over for Monk to play with.
Rival watch and league prediction: Villa are storming up the league now Grealish is back, looking at their fixtures I'd expect them to finish top 6 now. Although it may come back to the last 2 games against Leeds & Norwich which won't be easy, they best hope they go up as the P&S boogeyman will be coming. West Brom are stuck in that no mans land where they're guaranteed playoffs but they don't have enough to reach the top 2. I think Norwich & Sheff Utd will get the automatic spots, with Leeds going up through the playoffs.

19. Reading by therealadamaust

Manager: Reading FC - Jose Gomes, who took over from Paul Clement just before Christmas.
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: I was thinking mid table, probably lower mid table. Our signings made me cautiously optimistic, and we started with a good performance against Derby County, despite conceding a last minute winner. Looking back, I realise this was a poor prediction, in that we didn't win a single pre-season game and our signings were actually all pretty poor, with the exception of Andy Yiadom.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far? One word - horrifically, at least until the appointment of Gomes. The rot from last season had truly set in as the club became more and more of a toxic place to be, with a rift developing between not just the club and the fans, but separate groups within the supporter base too. On the pitch, we were playing dire football, and off the pitch our CEO Ron Gourlay proceeded to alienate everyone, tried to grab power, and buddied up with his Chelsea mate Paul Clement before they were both rightfully binned off in December, with the club needing a complete overhaul in the January window.
Since then, it's been the complete opposite with Gomes in charge and Nigel Howe returning as CEO. The support is back, the deadwood is gone, people are happy, and there's even the semblance of an atmosphere at the Madejski. The players want to play, the manager wants to manage, and the supporters want to support, which is something we didn't have with Clement. Combined with much better football and an uptick in form, and everything's all starting to look quite good.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: Under Jose Gomes, we've not really been able to play the players he wants to pick due to being pretty nailed by injuries. As such, I've put this team which seems to be the eleven that Gomes wants to put out. Due to what I shall call an 'unfortunate incident' with Tyrone Mings against Aston Villa followed by a hamstring injury, Oliveira has only featured in six games since joining on loan, and despite results we've definitely missed this focal point in the team, with Meite now usually playing up top and Ovie Ejaria coming in as the wide replacement. We're now characterised as generally good passers of the ball, who like possession but without passing the ball for passing's sake, as we were under previous managers. Instead we try to draw opponents onto us in order to break using the pace of our wide players, supported by a switch to more of a three at the back system with our full backs pushing forwards as we attack, and one of our central midfielders dropping between the two centre backs to provide cover. All in all, we've become a lot harder to beat.
Best/worst/memorable moments: I've picked four moments here, all of which are from the last six weeks or so, with three key victories being followed by a (mostly) dominant performance this weekend against Preston. First of all out of the three was Nelson Oliveira arriving back from surgery like a masked saviour to score a late winner against Blackburn Rovers. We then built on this at the beginning of the month with two crucial games against relegation rivals, with vital late goals from Mo Barrow scoring a 90th minute winner away at Ipswich in a 2-1 victory as well as an 89th minute equaliser the following week, before Yakou Meite netted in the 97th minute to beat Wigan 3-2.
Key stat: We're the best form team in the Championship that isn't part of the top 6, which is rather impressive considering we're in 19th.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Hull City (A), Norwich City (A), Brentford (H), Bristol City (A), West Bromwich Albion (H), Middlesbrough (A), Birmingham City (H).
I think that this is one of the hardest run ins that any team in the Championship has to face this season. I'm surprisingly confident about it though - although that's worked out poorly before. We're riding a high and could probably beat anyone on our day.
If you survive relegation you will... Need to carry on with the squad overhaul. Sign some of the loanees on permanent deals, and get rid of the older, unusable players.
If you go down you will... Need to do everything we can to get back up, although I'm not sure how soon that would be. We'd either languish for a while due to not being as good physically as the other teams, or we'd come straight back due to the fact we have some very technically competent players.
Finishing position: 18th or 19th, but comfortably safe from relegation.
Rival watch and league prediction: Ipswich are dead and buried at this point, with Bolton not too far behind, as these court situations will not be helping. Birmingham are in free fall and now in a bit of a relegation scrap with 5 or 6 losses on the spin, but a much better goal difference than the rest of us. I think the final relegation spot will be occupied by Rotherham, though.

20. Wigan by franktortuga

Team, Manager: Wigan Athletic, Paul Cook
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Our last two season in the Championship (16/17 & 14/15) Wigan were relegated from the Championship. Both times after going down we came back up as League One Champs. The majority of the fans just want us to maintain our Championship status. Due to our takeover in the middle of the season and lack of transfers last summer because of this, staying up this season is so crucial for our clubs future.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?
Oof. Well, 10 games into the season the Latics were in 8th place, with 5 wins, including a 3-0 win over Stoke. Flash forward to now, Latics are in 19th, just 3 points out of relegation and no away wins since Stoke! The winter period saw the Latics lose crucial attacking players in Gavin Massey, Michael Jacobs and more importantly Nick Powell. Who were all instrumental in our 17/18 League One Championship season. The selling of Will Grigg on deadline day is something that most of us don't want to talk about, given our lack of goals all season. Many fans called for Cook's head before the impressive 3-0 win over Villa. Then again after defeats against Reading and Blackburn, things were looking bad before a 5-2 win over Bolton last matchday.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics:
http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=hy9d9
4-2-3-1, although we have had a few players rotate. Reece James, most notably, has been playing CDM the last few games, with Nathan Byrne on the right. Also, Danny Fox will most likely start taking either Kipre or Chey out, or could slide in LB. We have gone 3 CB's with two wingbacks a few times this season as well.
Best/worst/memorable moments:
Worst moments, the matches against Preston, Blackburn and Brentford, last minute pk winner at Norwich, last minute PK against Forrest. Best moments, 3-0 win at Stoke, 3-0 win over Villa and 5-2 win over Bolton.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?:
Nervous is an understatement. I believe two wins of the last 8 would keep us safe, around 8 points.
Brentford (H), Bristol City (A), Hull City (A), Norwich (H), Leeds (A), Preston (H), Birmingham (A), Millwall (H)
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..[and if you don't you will]
If the Latics get relegated I will have to unsubscribe from this subreddit for the 3rd time in 5 years and won't be very happy.
Rival watch and league prediction:
Bolton... not much needs to be said. I think I speak for most football fans when I say I don't want them to go bust. It's a shame to see the state of that club right now our derbys are something we all look forward to.
At this point I think Leeds is going to blow the auto push. I think Norwich and Shef U go up and WBA win playoffs. Rotherham, Bolton and Ipswich to go down.

21. Millwall by Shitta_Than_Shittu

Manager: Neil Harris
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: After massively overachieving in our first season back in the league, with a late playoff push towards the end of the season, a season of building to consolidate our status as a championship side was the goal. Any expectation of another playoff push was pure fantasy, but a mid table finish seemed like a reasonable aim.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: Despite an exciting cup run this season has turned out to be a struggle for us, and we've found ourselves deservedly in a relegation battle. An inability to see out games and lack of tactical flexibility for the majority of the season has left us deservedly in a relegation battle, perhaps expectedly when looking at the cost of our team compared to others in the division. Spending most of the season languishing just above the relegation places, a recent downturn in form leaves us just a point above relegation placed Rotherham.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: http://lineupbuilder.com/?sk=hy9my5 We started the season with the 442 that brought us great success last season. However, after selling midfielder George Saville and striker Steve Morison getting on a bit, other teams started to figure us out, and a 442 based on soaking up pressure and quick long ball counters quickly descended into painful and drab hoofball, with a clear lack of a plan b. The return of loaned out midfielder Ben Thompson, from a successful spell at Portsmouth, alongside the return of winger Ben Marshall, on loan from Norwich, allowed us to switch to the 433 which we use now. While we've enjoyed a little more success with it at times, usually playing a pressing game built on quick counters and transitions against the bigger sides. Against smaller sides a lack of identity is evident and games usually quickly turn into a bit of a slog.
Best/worst/memorable moments: In the league, it's difficult to pick a best moment, because there are next to none, we've come short in all of our big games in the league this season, even if it's well hidden by memorable moments such as our cup win against Everton. We've been on the wrong side of a thrilling 4-3 loss to Norwich. The low of this season for sure has to be our 2-1 loss away to Bolton, the moment when relegation started to become a genuine prospect.
Key Stat: Over 25% of our goals conceded this season have come after the 75th minute. This sums our season up perfectly sadly. If games were 75 mins long, we'd be comfortably mid table if not more. Unfortunately an inability to hold onto leads, caused in part by tactical decisions to sit back and absorb pressure late in the game, combined with ineffectual (or lack of) substitutions have cost us dearly this season.
Remaining fixtures and expectations: WBA (H), QPR (H), Sheff Utd (A), Brentford (H), Villa (A), Stoke (H), Bristol City(H), Wigan (A). Not the easiest run in by any means, but we tend to perform better against top half teams, so that may work in our favour. Having won only three games away from home all season, having most of our remaining games is definitely an advantage. The two London derbies against QPR and Brentford, as well as Stoke are games where we need to pick up points if we are to stay in this division. Away games against Sheff Utd and Villa will be a tough ask, so home form will be crucial.
If we get relegated I will...: be fuming. While I can have no complaints if we go down, we won't have deserved to stay up whatsoever, the way in which we go down will be unacceptable. Having thrown away too many late leads, and failed to pick up points in games where we have been the better team, it'll be tough to take and serious questions will need to be asked of the management, even if Harris is a club legend, things could turn bitter should we go down.
Finishing position prediction: 21st
Rival watch and league prediction: Sadly our main division rivals Leeds look like they're on their way to promotion alongside Norwich, the less said about that the better. London rivals QPR and Brentford are both heading towards mid table finishes, QPR in much worse shape than the latter. Norwich and Leeds will most likely finish in the top two, I fancy either Sheff Utd or Bristol City (if they make it) to win the playoffs. We'll probably just have enough to get over the line and survive, which means Rotherham bounce straight back down to League One with Bolton and Ipswich

22. Rotherham no review submitted

23. Bolton Wanderers by rexkwando52

Manager: Phil Parkinson
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?:
After miraculously staying up with 2 goals in the last 2 minutes of the final game of the season, fans were hoping to build on the 21st place finish. There were no hopes of anything higher than mid table, a comfortable season would have been a success if we could avoid looking over our shoulders at the relegation zone. And those hopes were granted.... For the first couple of weeks. This was despite players refusing to play a pre season game at St. Mirren due to unpaid wages and bonuses from the previous year. Something that was to cast a dark shadow over the club in the months to come.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?
Terrible. A bright start to the campaign fell away fast and the team plummeted through the standings. Some of the absolute worst football we've ever watched came. Averaging around 35% possession most games, negative long ball tactics and goal shy strikers. It really hasn't been good viewing. 3 wins and a draw from the first 4 games saw us high up the table. Then a 3-0 dismantling by Sheffield United saw the wheels fall off. 1 win and 4 draws from the next 18 games with only 9 goals scored before a 2-1 victory over Rotherham on boxing day saw us sink to the bottom. After that, not much else changed and at the time of writing, we sit 8 points adrift with 8 to play.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics:
I can't really give a best or most used 11 because there hasn't been one. I think Parkinson uses a bingo machine to pick his team as it changes so much every game. Our 'best' player Ameobi has been sub par. Bright players have been polish right back Olkowski and youth midfielder Luca Connell but besides this the team has lacked quality throughout.
Best/worst/memorable moments:
Best moments have been the bright start, beating relegated West Brom 2-1 on opening day, and a 5 goal fa cup win over Walsall where the team looked like they could actually play football. By far the worst moment came in our last outing though, getting thumped 5-2 away at rivals Wigan. It was really the last chance to mount a challenge to stay up and the performance was pathetic.

.... rest of the Bolton and Ipswich (p)reviews in the comments below!

submitted by s0ngsforthedeaf to soccer [link] [comments]

UEFA Champions League Predictions & Betting Tips Qualifiers 1st Leg  Best Bets This Is How Kaizer Chiefs Under 2.5 goals betting strategy ( Learn how to bet and trade at a professional level ) SoccerVista - football betting Official HD video 2019 Soccer prediction

The live football scores service on Infogol offers football live scores, football results, football betting tips and football statistics from some of the top leagues around the world, such as the English Premier League, English Championship, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga, French Ligue 1, US MLS and Brazilian Série A, plus the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League Below is a comprehensive list of fixture with betting odds online courtesy of Betxchange. Click on any of the links below for the relevant fixture list. Soccer Fixtures from other Bookmakers. Hollywoodbets Fixtures Today the Brand Keith Ho BetXchange has expanded throughout South Africa with world-class betting shops open in 5 of the 9 Betting World reserves the right refuse the Bonus Wallet offer, if it considers that any fraud or breach of these Terms and Conditions, attempted manipulation or other illegal acts were performed. This offer is only valid to 100 customers ONLY to place a bet on any E-Soccer fixture. Selected customers will be personally contacted to receive Kick-off Times; Kick-off times are converted to your local PC time. Download Sports Fixture Download Soccer Fixture Ticket Lookup Find A Branch Statistics Live Scores Results Centre WSB Blog Betting Rules Terms & Conditions Promotions Help Results Lotto Results Contact Us How to Videos. Licensed by the Gauteng Gambling Board Responsible Gambling - 0800 006 008 World Sports Betting.

[index] [13760] [15399] [12543] [4684] [6997] [9206] [14706] [1245] [12165] [1062]

UEFA Champions League Predictions & Betting Tips Qualifiers 1st Leg Best Bets

Lebohang Manyama, Thembinkosi Lorch, Vincent Pule, 2019/20 Season Nurkovic, Mhango, Maluleka, Kaizer Chiefs Team, Orlando Pirates FC Team, Sundowns, Sirino, Vilakazi ... In this clip Alex and Martin discuss the UEFA Champions League Qualifiers and make their predictions to the start of the most prestigious club football tournament in the world. Today's LiveScore football fixtures and results official HD video 2019 - Duration: ... Fake World Record ... Football Betting Strategies ... Within our football betting tutorial we have listed 15 popular leagues in total, that we implement our mathematical betting strategy on for very specific football fixtures and individual football ... Soccer Betting Tips: Direct from Las Vegas, WagerTalk.com TV host Marco D’Angelo (@MarcoInVegas) sits down with soccer betting expert Carmine Bianco (@CarmineBiancoWT) and goes over how to bet ...