We saw Great Britain play as a collective team during the Olympics, but now it’s time to separate again. As the United Kingdom prepare themselves for their next World Cup qualifying games tonight, we’re looking at their chances of succeeding the qualifying stages and making it to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
England are (at this moment in time) top of their qualifying table after 2 strong 5-0 wins and a draw against Ukraine. The new manager, Roy Hodgson, is mixing the veterans with the exciting youth prospects to work on the long-term plan. Despite the accusations that from Patrick Vieira stating “The young players do not love playing for England”, plenty have shown passion, determination & a refreshing attitude when they’ve put their national shirt on. England look to be the strongest team in their group, but (as we all know) anything can happen in football- so they’ll need to stay focused, get the job done and demonstrate what they’re really capable of on a world stage.
Scotland have just 2 points from 3 games and are away to group leaders Belgium tonight. It’s going to be a tough challenge to get 3 points. They will be kicking themselves after their last-minute defeat to Wales on Friday night, but since captain (and Manchester United star) Darren Fletcher is back match-fit, who knows what might happen.
Wales face a strong Croatian side tonight after coming back to beat Scotland 2-1 on Friday. Their star man, Gareth Bale, grabbed both goals and salvaged what was going to be a nice result for the Scots. The Welsh winger has been compared to the likes of Messi and Ronaldo by former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp. Some would beg to differ, but there’s no denying this talent could help Wales make it to Brazil. Wales currently sit 4th in their table at the moment, after losing to Belgium, then taking a heavy 6-1 defeat to Serbia. 3 points would help them a lot tonight.
Northern Ireland take on Ronaldo and friends when they face Portugal tonight, which is always going to be a demanding task. It’s unlikely they’ll get any points- especially if their performance is similar to the game against Luxembourg, where they managed to let a 1-0 lead slip on the 86th minute. They’ve also lost to Russia so only have 1 point on the table so far. A bit of Irish luck is in need..
Republic of Ireland are looking to bounce back and make a point tonight against Faroe Islands- who haven’t managed to get a point yet. ROI’s last game was one to be forgotten; a 6-1 defeat to the Germans left them demoralised and asking questions, but the Irish are aiming to impress and show what quality they have tonight so try and reach 6 points. The top 2 teams in the group – Sweden and Germany – face each other tonight to give Republic of Ireland a chance to catch up on them.
So which nations will make it to Brazil? There will surely be some surprises, also some shocks. We will see how Great Britain really is.
With the new football season kicking off shortly, evidence that the rivalry between Manchester United and Manchester City has intensified and gone global was found in Kuala Lumpur recently.
Amid a sea of sky-blue fans greeting the club at a friendly match in the Malaysian capital, there stood a lone Manchester United supporter, who had zipped off his jacket to reveal his red shirt. His determined singing was finally silenced by the appearance of the Premier League trophy on the field below.
Manchester City benefited from an injection of capital courtesy of the new owner last season and finally silenced Manchester United fans all over the world by winning the Premier League. The dramatic end to the season’s battle saw City clinch the Premiership title on goal difference from their long-time rivals Manchester United.
With the nearest club to the two Manchester teams, Arsenal, a massive 19 points behind them, the two rivals now appear to be in a league of their own.
Manchester City waited 44 years for the sweet taste of Premiership success and it does not seem likely they will have to wait so long again. City had trailed for a long time in United’s shadow, but they now look set to enjoy a spell in their own limelight. The manner in which they won the title promises to set City’s rivalry with United on a whole new level, so get ready for sparks to fly next season.
Denis Law, who played for both clubs, says this intensified rivalry will be good for the city of Manchester. Opening a new exhibition at United’s ground, Old Trafford, which celebrates his career, he said that to have two indisputably world-class football teams in the very same city was unique and made Manchester a special place to visit.
He commented that: “Obviously you’ve got Barcelona and you’ve got Real Madrid, but they’re one club in a city. We’ve got two in the city of Manchester, so we’re known throughout the world.”
Key dates for next season will be the derbies between the two clubs, which take place on Saturday 8 December 2012 at City’s Etihad Stadium, with the Old Trafford game on 6 April 2013.
The intense rivalry of United and City, and this rivalry being placed on a new footing by the dominance of both club’s over last year’s league table results, does make Manchester a city with a very special appeal to visitors. Its hospitality is second to none, with a welcoming bed and delicious breakfast available at great guest houses such as the Luther King House.
The excitement of the football combined with its fantastic shops, great cultural centres and lively nightlife mean there has never been a better time to visit Manchester, whether it’s for work or leisure.
Visit this website if you want to find places to host conferences in Manchester but do make sure that your invitations specify whether attendees should opt for red shirts or sky-blue shirts!
Read about the global rivalry of the two Manchester teams
Relive great moments in derbies throughout the team’s history
Find more reasons to visit Manchester at the official tourist site
The World of football came together on the 17th March 2012 when he collapsed on the pitch when he played for Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham. The game was being televised live, as millions witnessed him suffering a cardiac arrest half-way through the FA Cup quarter-final. Today, he announced that he will be retiring from professional football.
After the cardiac arrest saw players from both teams reduced to tears on the pitch, the World prayed for the humble football star, as a worldwide trend, #Pray4Muamba, hit Twitter. Football fans and players from all across the globe came together to show their support for Fabrice.
Although his heart actually stopped for 78 minutes, he then made a miraculous recovery in a matter of weeks and was then released from hospital – hoping that one day he’d return to the pitch. But that dream came to an end for this week.
Fabrice said, “As part of my on-going recovery, last week I travelled to Belgium to seek further medical advice from a leading cardiologist. But the news I received was obviously not what I had hoped it would be and it means I am now announcing my retirement from professional football.” He then went on to gratefully say that “While the news is devastating, I have much to be thankful for.”
I’m sure everybody would have loved to see Muamba put his boots on once again, but with something so serious shouldn’t be pushed.
Muamba made 33 appearances for the England U21 side and 24 appearances between U16-U19’s. This promising young player had a great future in the beautiful game and I’m sure everybody is just as devastated as he is. But that being said; he is one of the few premier league players who are so humble and grateful for what they have.
Although we’ll no longer see him on the playing field, I’m sure it won’t be the last we see of this truly inspiring star. Here’s to you, Fabrice Muamba.
In the past few months there’s been so much controversy for England; there were racism rows, Fabio Capello got sacked, the nation’s favourite (Harry Redknapp) was snubbed for the not-so-popular Roy Hodgson, big players were dropped, big players became injured and a lot smaller replacements were unexpectedly called up. But today England kick-off their Euro 2012 campaign at 5pm (UK time) against France.
It’s fair to say that the expectations for England to succeed at Euro 2012 are the lowest of any other international tournament they’ve been in for a good number of years, with the team’s plane booked for the day after their final group game. There’s normally such a phenomenal amount of pressure thrown onto England’s players when the international tournaments start. A lot of this is because of the media, who raise expectations so much that the nation simply expect way too much every time. For once, perhaps there’s a little less pressure for them, which could really help the younger players shine and enjoy the football that they’re playing.
This squad has a lot less veterans; the ones who have repeatedly been through the pressure and heartbreak of England’s international campaigns. This means that we’re starting fresh – there’s a new mentality in the training camp; players have said that communication is better with an English manager, making it much easier for players and management.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to start for England, after playing only 84 minutes of international football.
England are in Group D – the last of the groups – which consists of England, France, Sweden & joint-hosts Ukraine. All the other groups have now played 1 game each with a few shocks so far: the opening game saw 2 red cards, Russia look like they mean business and Spain aren’t actually top of their group (yet!).
It will be interesting to see what unfolds tonight. The youth have to go out there and show what they’re made of whilst the veterans can guide them through it. Euro 2012 will be full of entertainment and surprises!
So what are your predictions of the game tonight? And which teams do you think will progress to the knockout stages? Let me know in the comments!
After a short break from domestic games, the nations of Europe are about to battle it out in Poland & Ukraine to determine the European Champions. Spain won it 4 years ago when they defeated Germany 1-0 with a Fernando Torres goal (they then went on to become World champions 2 years later), but who do you expect to win this year?
Football fans have been treated to a truly entertaining season; with one of the most exhilarating title fight (that went to the very last seconds of the very last game) between the Manchester clubs. Chelsea sacked their manager after struggling in the league – they then went on to win both the FA Cup & Champions League with interim manager Roberto Di Matteo. Real Madrid managed to clinch the Spanish title, with many fans not used to Barcelona sitting below the top spot (although they did win the Copa Del Ray). Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during a game against Tottenham – bringing the whole of the footballing community together with ‘#Pray4Muamba’ being tweeted 685,721 times.
With such an entertaining season finally over, it’s the time every football fan loves – getting behind their country in a big international competition! As an England fan, I was able to watch the Euros as a neutral in 2008. I was one of the unlucky fans at Wembley when England failed to make the Euros. This was something I was inevitably unhappy about, but it gave me an opportunity to sit back and enjoy the quality and excitement of international football without the tension, emotion and disappointment!
There are 16 countries that have qualified for the European Championships:
Poland, Greece, Russia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Croatia, Ukraine, Sweden, France & England.
Joint hosts Poland kick-off the tournament against Greece on 8th June and the final will be played on the 1st July. You can take a look at the tournament map yourself.
So who will you be supporting? Your own country, I’m sure. But what about all of you neutrals? The European Championships are one of the most entertaining spectacles as a neutral viewer, so be ready to enjoy watching some magical games of football!