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Futbols24 mag *

issue 4 July 2013

the monthly magazine about the beautiful game of football


Issue Nr. 4

July 2013 Greetings to all magazine readers in July! The time, when summer is still on and sun doesn’t mind to get back behind the clouds too often. But in the football world June is not a doing-nothing month, at least not always. In year 2013 the month of June means it is Confederations Cup going on. Colourful and exciting tournament, which was like a warm up before 2014 world cup. This time it was held in Brazil and no matter all the problems existing outside of the pitch, Brazilians managed to prove their fans their team is still one of the strongest in the world, by beating Spain in the final 3:0. We put a review about this tournament, overall from both sides – negative and positive. Why such? find out More about that in july issue of our magazine.

Neverending speculations about France superproject in Ligue 1 – AS Monaco. Team gets strenghtened from week to week and next season is going to be a very interesting one in Ligue 1 with a battle between Paris Saint Germain and Monaco – two clubs, which want to prove they are the best at their country. These and many other interesting stories and opinions you will find in this edition.

But when you have such a player in a team, who can score even if you think he won’t manage it this time and also show loyality to his team, becoming a real leader, then you know that talk goes about benfica striker and living legend Oscar Cardozo. How far he might go into his career and also many more interesting facts about his career – in this July issue. he’s our cover hero this month.

not so long time ago we were sad that season has ended and we’ll have some “empty months” without a quality football. now situation has changed, it’s a middle of summer and soon season gonna start in Russian league and in august, we’ll in action the teams from top 5 leagues. But meanwhile you read the magazine, don’t forget to enjoy the summer! Yeeeeaaaaah!

best regards, enjoy the magazine!

Rolands Juhna Editor in chief


Rolands Juhna

Design and Layout


Cristian Liberum Nastya Mendez Asuman Dogan

info at


vladislav adamishen Rob o'Connor


futbols24mag futbols24

Issue Nr. 4 3 tacuara story of oscar cardozo 9 saint andres 11 hot, hot, hot brazil confederations cup review 19 inter milan all or nothing? 21 shame and stagnation latvia national team 25 AS Monaco rising football kingdom



Story of Ă“scar Cardozo paraguayan goal machine Cristian Liberum

Tacuara One of the most underrated strikers in european football. Oscar cardozo has been under radar of top clubs for many years. despite that, he’s proved to be a man of word. loyal to his club and fans.



through the odds This story has something similar with many other but it’s still a unique one. While it’s nothing unusual that kid from poor neighbourhood turns into well-known and rich man, story of Oscar Cardozo still seems interesting one. Paraguay isn’t the wealthiest country in Southern America. Situation is opposite. Almost 30% of the Paraguay population is poor. Many of them have to face a real poverty each day, as economical situation in country isn’t really good. No wonder that Oscar Cardozo had to face humble and quite poor childhood, as he was born in a small town, called Juan Eulogio Estigarribia, in a family of farmers. Since he was a kid, Cardozo helped parents in all works they were doing in farm. Football had it’s place in life of Cardozo since early years but it wasn’t a priority. First of all, he had to work and help his family to survive and you also can’t forget the school, which was quite far away from home... Work, bike, school, bike, homework’s and just then - football. Daily marathons with bike can make you feel exhausted but same time, it makes you only stronger. While playing in Paraguay, Cardozo got nickname “Tacuara”. It means “Big cane” in Guarani language and if you look at stature of Paraguayan, you can see that he’s tall (193 cm) and very well built. What’s even more important, if we talk about football, he knows how to use his body the proper way. Cardozo can hold the ball up, that’s one of his strongest attributes. With such a strong body it’s also much easier to fight off opponents and be successful in aerial duels. At age of 20, Cardozo got his first professional contract with Ciudad del Este club Club Atlético 3 de Febrero. He quickly established himself as a consistent goal-scorer. In two seasons with 3 de Febrero, Cardozo scored 20 goals in 34 games. After two solid seasons he moved forward to the capital city of Paraguay - Asuncion. Young striker joined Nacional Asunción, a Primera Division club. That was a completely another level for Cardozo and he had relatively slow start with Nacional, scoring just three goals in his first season in Asuncion. In next few seasons his role became more important and statistics also improved. Consistent performance of Cardozo was noticed by Argentinian club Newell’s Old Boys. This club was ready to pay bit more than $1 million for talented striker.

move to argentina Argentine Primera Division came as a good challenge and school for Oscar Cardozo. He got a chance to play for Newell’s Old Boys. Club with a long history, founded by English immigrant Isaac Newell in 1903. It has produced some wellknown names in football. First who comes in mind is Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, who played for club youth sides before moving to Europe. Cardozo quickly impressed everyone and he immediately became the leading striker of Newell’s Old Boys. Both, in Apertura and Clausura, Paraguayan was just one goal short to become the top scorer of Primera Division. He scored 11 goals in Apertura, losing top scorers award to Boca Juniors striker Rodrigo Palacio and Vélez Sársfield’s Mauro Zarate (12 goals both). In Apertura, Paraguayan scored 10 goals and lost race for top scorers award to legendary Boca Juniors striker Martin Palermo, who scored 11 goals that season. Overall, 2006/2007 season was a real breakthrough for Oscar Cardozo. Strong performances in Argentina helped him win Paraguayan Footballer of the Year for the first time. He also got earned his first international cap and Gerardo Martino included Cardozo in Paraguay’s squad for 2007 Copa America. Can’t really say that Cardozo shined throughout this tournament but he still had quite important role in team. Of course, can’t forget the move to Benfica...

Paraguay started tournament with a massive 5-0 win over Colombia. In a victory over United states, Cardozo scored a crucial goal, which guaranteed Paraguay’s place in play-off round. Then came match between leaders of Group C. Paraguay faced Argentina and La Albiceleste had to put a lot of efforts to find the net. They got minimal 1-0 victory thanks to goal of Javier Mascherano on 79th minute. Paraguay entered knockout stage with a confidence. Unfortunately, 1/4 final match against Mexico turned into a real disaster. Already after first half, Mexicans had 3-0 lead and in the end of second half they totally crushed their opponents, finishing the game with final score of 6-0... Disappointing performance and result.

Arrival to Portugal a new challenge Already before the start of 2007 Copa America, Cardozo was officially signed by Portuguese grand Benfica. Negotiations with weren’t easy but management of Benfica wanted to see Paraguayan talent on Estádio da Luz. In the end, Portuguese grand paid €11.2 million and on 21 June 2007, Cardozo signed a contract with club. The transfer fee is the second highest ever paid by the Portuguese giants, behind only the signing of Simao Sabrosa from Barcelona. This move was a start of new and exciting journey in career of Tacuara. Joining Benfica was a real challenge for Cardozo. It’s a serious challenge for every striker who joins this club. If you just take a second and look back at the history of Benfica, you’ll see that team always had a lot of wonderful strikers. In fact, one of the best strikers ever - Eusebio, was also a part of Benfica. Of course, fans didn’t expected such numbers from Cardozo, as Eusebio had but still, they always have high expectations about every newcomer. Paraguayan wasn’t an exception. If you earn sympathies and love of the fans, life becomes much more easier. That’s a fact in every team sport. At moment when Cardozo arrived to Lisbon, he had to face a competition against iconic figure in Portuguese football - veteran striker Nuno Gomes. It’s not so easy job to overshadow such player, like Gomes. He was probably the most recognisable Portuguese player in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and he always was a fan favourite. Especially, after Euro 2000, where he scored four goals and helped Portugal to each the semifinals. He always looked young (even now he hasn’t changed a lot), always scored some wonderful and important goals and Nuno Gomes was one of the last players from that early 2000’s Portugal’s generation of Luis Figo, Rui Costa, Pauleta, Vitor Baia and many others. At age of 31, Gomes was still capable to score 10+ goals per season and handle the role of leading Benfica player. Taking his place was a serious challenge for Cardozo. Along with Cardozo, Benfica got some more important additions in summer of 2007. They signed such players, as Uruguayan wingback Maxi Pereira, Argentine winger Ángel Di María, Portuguese winger Fábio Coentrão and Brazilian defender David Luiz. All these players later formed the backbone of the club next championship title in 2009/2010 season. Despite managerial changes and pressure from the fans, Cardozo had a solid debut season with Benfica. Paraguayan appeared in more (45) games than any other player. His goalscoring rate wasn’t so impressive (13 goals in league and 22 goals in all competitions) but he still was the top scorer of Benfica. He handled the pressure well and already in his first season Cardozo showed everyone that he’s going to stay in Lisbon for more than just a season. He’s ready to bring the results. Tacuara made his debut in Portuguese league on 18 August 2007 in a 1-1 draw against Leixões. His first goal came just a few weeks later, when Paraguayan scored two goals in a 3-0 victory over Nacional.


Overall, 2007/2008 season was a relatively weak for Benfica. They finished just fourth in Primeira Liga, losing their place in the UEFA Champions League qualification for the first time since 2001/2002 season. In Champions League they finished third in group and later on, they were knocked out in Round of 16 in UEFA Cup. Performances in Taça de Portugal and Taça da Liga also were disappointing, as Benfica was eliminated in semi-final and second leg.

long way to the title Quique Sánchez Flores was appointed as the new manager of Benfica at the beginning of 2008/2009 season. Under new manager, Cardozo continued to be dominant scorer in Primeira Liga. He was a permanent choice for starting line-up and veteran Nuno Gomes continued to stay in the shadow of his younger teammate. Benfica had relatively slow start and really impressive run in the mid-season, when they even got the leading position in Primeira Liga. Unfortunately, in the last stage of season Benfica lost too much points and all hopes on title and Champions League journey were lost. Benfica finished just third, behind Porto and Sporting Lisboa. Once again, they were left out

#benfica Champions League action and it was enough to once again make managerial changes. Sánchez Flores left club at the end of season and Jorge Jesus took his place for the 2009/2010 season. In summer of 2009, Eagles got some serious additions. They paid €12 million to Real Madrid for the Spanish midfielder Javi Garcia and Argentine striker Javier Saviola. Eagles also paid €7.5 million for 22 years old Brazilian midfielder Ramires. With such additions and progress of Cardozo, Di Maria, Luiz and Coentrao, Benfica finally had the squad able to fulfil fans ambitions and bring national title. Benfica finally played the football fans wanted to see and Cardozo was simply H-O-T. 26 goals in Primeira Liga and 38 goals total. He formed very strong partnership with Saviola, who also added 19 goals that season. Benfica performed strongly in league, losing just twice and having some spectacular victories, such as 8-1 against Vitória Setúbal, 6-1 against Nacional or 5-0 against Olhanense. Porto was left out of chances in a race for the league title and they were also crushed in the final of Taça da Liga. 3-0 was the final score and third goal was scored by Cardozo. Tacuara had some good moments in UEFA Europa League journey too. He became the top scorer of this tournament with 10 goals in 13 matches and his outstanding performances helped Benfica to reach the 1/4 final stage.


Eagles successfully played through the group stage, losing just one game (to AEK) and securing their place in knockout stage. In Round of 32, Benfica got past German Hertha, crushing them at home 4-0. In next round, situation was much more nervous, as they faced French grand Marseille. First match in Lisbon ended with a 1-1 draw and second meeting turned into real drama. Score was 1-1, situation looked like it’s going to the extra time but then came the goal of Alan Kardec on 91st minute and Benfica was in 1/4 finals! Cardozo shined through the first leg of 1/4 final against Liverpool. Benfica got 2-1 victory at home and both goals were scored from the penalty spot by Paraguayan. Sadly, second leg didn’t brought any positive emotions for Benfica fans. Liverpool showed some excellent football and trashed Eagles 4-1. Cardozo scored one goal but it wasn’t enough to bring at least some hopes for success. Anyway, Benfica had a great season and Cardozo had huge impact in this success.

six seasons 260 games, 161 goals for benfica. He’s a living legend of Águias. that’s a fact. *

Benfica is a club with a long and successful history. One of the best strikers in the history of football Eusebio spent most of his career in Lisbon. Benfica has always been a team with bright strikers in it’s squad and Oscar Cardozo isn’t an exception. He has spent six seasons in Portugal and it’s clear that he gonna leave some legacy. Not many strikers were able to put up such numbers, as Cardozo has done. He will be a good example for the next generation of Benfica strikers.

Pain... Conflicts and future unclear Since arrival of Jorge Jesus, Benfica has became a lot more consistent team. There were some major changes in squad in recent years. Players, like Angel Di Maria, Fabio Coentrao, David Luiz and Ramires were sold to Real Madrid and Chelsea. Later, club also saw departures of Javi Garcia (Manchester City) and Axel Witsel (Zenit St. Petersburg). Despite that, Benfica remained title contender in Portugal and regular participant of UEFA Champions League. Role of Oscar Cardozo hasn’t significantly changed since Jesus came to club. He’s still the leading scorer of club and even with arrival of Brazilian striker Lima and great number of goals he scored in Primeira Liga, Cardozo still remained club’s leading scorer with 33 goals (2012/2013 season). Managers come and go, players are bought and sold but Cardozo remains the same. He doesn’t lose any of his qualities and aging doesn’t seems an issue for him. Maybe it even helps, as Paraguayan has huge portion of European and International experience behind him. Last season had the potential to be one of the greatest seasons in last 20 years. Benfica remained a leader of Primeira Liga till that unlucky match against Porto, when they lost their

#legend title in just a few seconds. Same story was about UEFA Europa League. Benfica looked better than Chelsea. More motivated, more energetic but in the end, they once again failed to keep the right rhythm till the end of match. Cardozo did his best in all these decisive moments and then came moment, when he simply lost control of himself. Final of Taça de Portugal, Benfica got lead on 30th minute and everything looked good for them. Oscar Cardozo was replaced after 70 minutes and then... Benfica conceded two goals and once again lost title in last ten minutes of this decisive match. Cardozo angrily confronted manager Jorge Jesus, inclusively pushing him. Jesus remained calm and when emotions were calmed down, Cardozo apologized for his actions against manager. This conflict may be the reason, why Cardozo could leave Benfica. At the moment, when I’m writing this article, he’s still the part of Benfica but rumours are telling that he could leave very soon. Will Cardozo leave or not? I don’t know but it’s clear that he’s really a bit underrated striker. As I said before, his qualities doesn’t get any worse. He isn’t affected by age and that’s the reason why Manchester City and Manuel Pellegrini shows interest about him. Cardozo is a fighter on pitch and really humble person in everyday’s life. It would be great to see him in action at some of the top clubs. Personally, I think he deserves that. He has been loyal to Benfica and he has done his best for this club. Maybe it’s time for a new challenge?


Saint Andres Barcelona midfielder and Spain international Andres Iniesta once again saved his former club Albacete Balompie once again, by paying 240 000 euros owed to the club’s players. Since 2011, it’s second time when financial injections of Iniesta are saving club from Castile-La Mancha. nastya mendez It’s nothing unusual in modern football, when teams face some major financial problems. Especially, in 21st century, when the financial situation in Europe isn’t really stable. Spanish Segunda B club Albacete Balompie went through financial odds in recent years. In first part of 2000’s, Albacete spent few seasons in La Liga, before being relegated in 2005. After relegation, situation in club slowly turned into difficult. Lowest point was reached in 2011. Albacete was just one step from bankruptcy, having huge (13 million euros) debts and unclear future. And then came the saviour... Andres Iniesta spent just two years (1994-1996) with Albacete youth squads before moving to Barcelona academy. Despite spending just few seasons in Albacete, Iniesta always remained a fan of this club. “I was an Albacete supporter. Many stories have been told, but that is the reality; my father was an Athletic fan, and I liked Albacete and Barça, my second team. At the weekends, as I had a pass to play in

a honest act. Albacete probably won’t be back in Spanish football elite in nearest future but at least they can live on and dream about reaching the past heights. In 2013/2014 season Albacete Balompie is going to play in Segunda B division. Last season was successful enough to await new season with hopes about promotion to Segunda division. In 2012/2013 season Albacete finished third in Group 4 and advanced to the play-off stage of Segunda B. In first round they met another former La Liga club Real Oviedo (we mentioned it’s amazing story of rebirth in last issue). Fans had a chance to enjoy two very tough and exciting meetings. First leg was played in Oviedo and home team took a 1-0 win. Second leg turned into real drama. Albacete got lead on 52nd minute, when 34 years old veteran striker Antonio Calle scored the opening goal. Just a few minutes later, Oviedo player Manu Busto scored an equaliser and situation became worse for the home team.

In last few years, Andres iniesta invested more than €700 000 to help his childhood club survive and pay all the debts. Iniesta is the largest shareholder of albacete and now it’s clear that club will live on, thanks to barcelona superstar. the juniors, I went to see the Primera División matches. The year they went up (in 2003) was a great year for me,” said Iniesta. His support now has turned into some real financial support. When Albacete had critical situation in 2011, Iniesta injected 420 000 euros into then cash-strapped Albacete. This injection saved club from bankruptcy. Of course, fact that Iniesta became the major shareholder of club quickly was announced in press and club got some attention from media. Spanish superstar became like a guarantee for the potential sponsors and ticket holders. Guarantee that club has someone, who can take care of it in difficult moments. By paying another 240 000 euros and saving club from relegation to the fourth tier (Tercera Division) of Spanish football, Iniesta once again showed that he’s the man of word. If life would be a game and our main mission would be the collecting of points, El Ilusionista would earn a lot of respect points for such


Calle scored his second goal on 71st minute and Albacete desperately looked for the third goal. They tried, they did their best but it wasn’t enough for another goal. Final score 2-1 and Oviedo makes it into next round... It will be interesting to see, how Albacete gonna play this season. They need good results to bring some hope about future. Honestly, I hope to see Andres Iniesta playing for Albacete one day. There probably will come that moment, when he will feel that it’s time to leave Barcelona. You can’t stop the time. Maybe then he could come back to his home club and become owner-player, which would be something new in football. Iniesta is a very gifted footballer and I believe he would strengthen Albacete, no matter how old he would be. Till that moment, we can just enjoy the fact that there’s still some footballers with humble character and big heart. Andres Iniesta is the man, who deserves a huge respect!



HOT HOT hot brazil Hot! That’s how Brazil could be described using just one word. FIFA Confederations Cup brought to us not only hot battles on football stadiums but also outside them. No matter what, it’s clear that World Cup 2014 will unforgettable tournament. Photo: AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano

rolands juhna


nationwide protests in brazil Honestly, I’m not a fan of politics and even more I don’t like fact that football is also affected by politicians and various dirty intrigues. Unfortunately, it’s hard to stay silent and ignore everything what happened in background of Confederations Cup...

politicians to take some actions. Government and National Congress accepted some demands of protesters, meaning that all these riots weren’t useless. There’s a chance that Brazil could change it’s direction and government will be forced to make some REAL changes.

Early in June 2013, Brazil faced a serious problem - nationwide protests against government. Millions of people took part in protests in more than 100 cities around the Brazil. That’s something massive! And now there’s just a year left till the biggest event in the world - FIFA World Cup. Billions of people are waiting for this tournament. Not only because football is the most popular game on Earth, but also because of the location of this football festival. It’s hard to find another country, where people would be so passionate about football. Brazilians adore football and I can’t forget one famous quote about Brazilians and the game of football. “The English invented it, the Brazilians perfected it.” It’s hard to argue with that. Brazilians always attracted a lot of attention with dozens of creative footballers. Despite all this, situation isn’t so optimistic at the moment.

However, all these protests are a clear warning that something has gone the wrong way. I saw the comments of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who linked these protests with similar protests in Turkey, claiming that they were part of a conspiracy by unspecified foreign forces, bankers, and international and local media outlets. Maybe it’s true, maybe not. I’m not so deep into politics but I know that there have been a lot of controversy and rumours about World Cup bids. Especially, if we look at Russia and Qatar. Many people had doubts about transparency of voting. It’s usual that many important decisions are made behind closed doors and we can only guess, what those “immortal people of football” are discussing there. I see that frustration could only grow in nearest future, I wouldn’t be surprised about that. And I don’t mean only Brazil or any other particular country. Overall, situation turns absurd. I hate the fact that football is becoming so “exclusive”. Such course is wrong and I’m sure it will lead to bad end. It will not survive for a long period. There will be an end and maybe even a renaissance in football. I’m sure about that. Reason is very simple. Football is a game of billions. This game is phenomenon. You can read thousands of stories, when football becomes the only chance for poor children to escape from wars and poverty. Football brings a chance and hope for a safe and peaceful life.

Temper and passion are good things, if used the right way. Unfortunately, sometimes these traits can break all the borders and create chaos. I don’t want to judge Brazilians and their desire to participate in these protests against government. I can even imagine and understand their feelings. Brazil is quite specific country, you can’t forget about that too. Corruption is a major issue there, crime rates are high and it’s definitely not the safest place on the Earth. Many people have to face poverty and inequality. No one can argue that Brazil’s economy is rapidly growing but same time, simple citizens don’t really feel any changes in their lives. It’s clear that people can’t be satisfied when they see their government spending billions of dollars on World Cup, when there’s a lot of even more important problems to be solved. And here again, I can mention corruption. Such events need huge amounts of money to be invested in stadiums and infrastructure. Those are billions of dollars and I know cases, when building costs are higher than they should be. Such happens. Especially, in countries where corruption is one of the main problems. People see that, they become angry and here we go! Protests, violence just one year before the World Cup... Initially all those demonstrations were started Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement). As in many major cities there were plans to increase the fares for buses, trains and metro - Movimento Passe Livre took their initiative and their main goal was to see government reducing public transportation fares or even making them free for everyone. Later on there came also some new demands about spending less on major sports events (World Cup) and increasing funds for education, health care and other vital infrastructures. Growing number of people involved in protests forced politicians to take some actions. While there was Confederations Cup going on, they had to make situation in largest cities less nervous and aggressive. President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff called together all the governors and other major


When it all comes to World Cup, it’s a painful topic. You have that positive side: joy, excitement and you finally see this massive football festival after 4 years of waiting! You want to enjoy and live through that with a smile on your face. But... I don’t know about the fans and maybe they even shouldn’t think about that so much, but there’s always that dark side of World Cup (or Euro, for example). It’s a chain you can’t break so easily. Story starts with all those intrigues, involving various football chairmen and even high rank politicians. They all are interested to bring World Cup to their country. Reasons may be different and probably most of them are good, but still - the dark side exists. Closed doors, as I already wrote before. And when voting is over, there starts another quite a slick process of preparation for this tournament. Budget turns into a sweet cake and everyone wants to get some piece of that. Generally, just a small group of people get a real benefits from that. Infrastructure improves but costs aren’t always adequate and example of Brazil shows that people see and understand that very well. World is slowly changing, people have concerns and no clear vision about future. Situation in football probably gonna be affected too. FIFA, UEFA and all other football related organizations should be careful. Maybe they should become more open and transparent for the fans and stop turning football into some kind of extra. Football is a game and all chairmen shouldn’t forget that.

Brazilians were left with mixed feelings about Confederations Cup. For some it was a real joy, but for others it became another reason to shout and protest against all problems country is still suffering. There’s still a lot of questions about future of Brazil and answers are limited for now. Feelings gonna stay unclear till the World Cup 2014.

Victory of brazilians brought at least some joy for all the struggling people of brazil. *


Tahiti – positive example or breakdown for the tournament? And now, let’s talk about football... In 2013 this tournament was quite special because Tahiti national football team took their part at it for the first time in the nation’s history being the strongest in Oceania Football Confederation zone so far. Although this Cup was not good for them if we look from the side of results, team didn’t hope to get any draw at all. So true was their happiness when they scored the one and only goal in the tournament against Nigeria, at the end losing this game with the score 1:6. Next two games – against Spain and Uruguay were more hopeless – 0:10 and 0:8. If we look from bright side, then it is great for such team where only few professionals might be found in the squad to participate in such international tournament, gain experience, get positive emotions (how positive they can be though) and feel the difference in the world of football. But the bad side is clearly connected with this difference. To be honest – every game where Tahiti participated was not even close to be called “football”. Yeah, they struggled, tried their best but the fact that many bookmakers denied to put odds on the matches where Tahiti played and in commentaries before matches appeared not the usual question: “who will win?” but “how many goals today will concede Tahiti?” And therefore the actual interest from the upcoming match dropped clearly. If two other teams had hard battle for the points and exit out of the group, then third one, which had the match against Tahiti, had like guaranteed 3 points in the table. Is that the right way to be? From juridical point of view – yes, because there is noone better for the moment in OFC than Tahiti national team. But from view of the sports it was not close as good and interesting, because all so predictable and in some way also pathetic. able to play their game and press down opponents as much as they did before. I believe in the World Cup 2014 they fill show a fine competition but it will be the last one for this generation. Hard to find someone close by personality and skills as Iker Casillas, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Fernando Torres and some more. It is the golden generation indeed, where all played for themselves and team in the same time, giving their souls to the pitch and spectators. The new talents that appear, will must work hard to try to replace (if that even is possible?) these already legendary football giants.

Get ready for Brazil! Brazil is... Neymar! Without doubt, this FIFA Confederations Cup went under the sign of Brazil. At least 50% of this luck came from spectators. Even through TV monitors it was clear that for other teams it is unusual and even hard to play at those huge Brazilian stadiums. And since World Cup 2014 will take place in the same stadiums, then somehow it is big advantage for all teams that played in those and felt that atmosphere. Especially for Spain and Italy, teams, which are always one of the pretenders for the title. They now understand that it is no joke to play in South America huge stadiums against home team, if you are surrounded with 60 000 or even more fanatic Brazilian fans, who support their team from all they can. Halfly it affected Spain as well, who conceded very fast goal in the final game against Brazil and since that didn’t manage to make a real comeback. Of course, it was not only because of fans. It was also the “guilt” of Brazilian superstar, Barcelona newcomer Neymar, who showed incredible performance. Overall, he wasn’t the best goalscorer but it was not the main thing. He scored very important goals in the most important matches of the tournament and proved that he can play even against world’s best defenders.

Different situation was in the other group. There draw put together hosts of the tournament and World Cup 2014 organizers as well Brazil, also the finalists of EURO 2012 Italy (they lost to Spain in the final and since Spain won the World CUP 2010, Italy got a place in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 as well), and also Mexico and Japan. Solid rivalry, isn’t it? And results proved this rivalry by themselves. Despite Brazil and Italy won their first two games and the last stage of the group tournament, where Brazil had to play against Italy and Mexico against Japan didn’t mean anything than just to decide, which of the teams – Brazil or Italy - will finish first, still noone can say that games were boring. For example, Italy struggled hard against Mexico, while scoring the winning goal quite late, by winning game 2:1 and even more they struggled against Japan, where also luck helped them to take a hard victory 4:3. And also when Brazil had to play against Mexico or Japan, it was not so easy walk as it could be. In this case, other group where Tahiti also played, lost such intrigue, which is very needed for such short-time played tournaments.

Spain is going down? This tournament was also special with fact that Spain finally suffered a hard loss. Yes, they made their way to final, by beating Italy just in penalty shoot-out in semifinal, but in final they had no chance against Brazil. 0:3 the final score says a lot. Spain never in the last years allowed to finish the game with a such a shame. At least in that called “golden era” with Xavi and Iniesta controlling the midfield zone. Now they did and after match came such speculations that Spanish good times are going close to an end. Two EURO’s, one FIFA World Cup in the last 5 years – it is not little amount of trophies. It is insane! But for everyone and everything somewhen comes end. And Spain is very close to that. It doesn’t mean they will become very weak team. Such is impossible practically with their resources and possibilities. They just won’t be

2013 confederations cup was a great chance for neymar to showcase his skills and creativity to the world. he handled the pressure well and led his team to the victory. Sometimes he made them look really ridiculous, with effective moves making them either make harsh foul on him or just fall down, not reading his game play at all. This kid will become a real superstar while playing for Barcelona and only thing which needed to devote to him is health. With such technical playing style it is always dangerous not to get hard leg injury. Defenders won’t feel sorry to do some fine tackle. But Neymar is ready for that and hopefully he won’t become a successor of former Brazilian star Ronaldo, who got several serious injuries just because defenders didn’t pity him and clattered to ground very often. Overall, tournament was very interesting and not less interesting was the atmosphere of it. Anyway, if it takes part in South America or Africa, it is different than playing in Europe. Different cultures, people and support. That’s why I am sure that World Cup 2014 in Brazil will be something massive and incredible. Same as FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 was. Brazil was and still stays the motherland of football. And team is eager to prove it once again, after one year, at same time and same place.

* BRAZIL 2013 *


All the eyes on Neymar. brazilian wonder created worldwide interest. is he the new king of football? *

* BRAZIL 2013 *


Can brazilians present their fans a nice gift next year too? fans are expecting victories! *



* BRAZIL 2013 *

All or Nothing? Everyone of us have to face that period in life when all everything is painted in dark colours. There are white stripes and then comes the period of those black stripes. Times when everything seems so unclear and there’s not much optimism about future. Such situations also happen in football. Not only players are affected by this, football clubs too. Here’s my view on situation around Inter Milan. Vladislav Adamishen I’m not going to hide fact that Inter is my favourite football club and I have warm feelings and great memories about this legendary club. Ironically, usually black-blue striped jersey of Inter has turned into totally black one and there’s not much optimism about it’s returning to usual colours. We all remember that Nerazurri was a very successful team, winning treble not so long time ago. After this triumph, everything slowly started to go the wrong way. Managerial changes, not really successful transfers. A lot of problems came from wrong decisions, made by club management and at the moment, there’s no clear ideas - how to change this unclear situation and bring success back? Last season was a chance for young manager Andrea Stramaccioni, who had a great success with Internazionale Primavera (youth team), winning 2011/2012 NextGen Series. This tournament is something like the UEFA Champions League for the youth teams. Stramaccioni proved his ability to lead young players to success and this fact was strong enough to get a chance to take leadership of first team. 28 March 2012, Andrea Stramaccioni was accepted as the new head coach of Inter. Almost everyone had faith in young manager, many believed that he could take Inter back to glory and some even compared him with former manager Jose Mourinho (Inter fans love to compare all new managers with The Special One, which is quite a logical desire). Club owner Massimo Moratti also showed his support to young manager and everything seemed very positive and optimistic. When season started, optimism only grew and there was a feeling that Stramaccioni could really lead Inter to a new heights. For a long time, Inter was in top 3 and they had winning streak, which lasted 7 games. There were victories against Milan and even Juventus. And then everything started to go the wrong way. I don’t really believe in mystics but such season simply forces me to think that it’s some kind of a curse. Suddenly, Inter lost it’s manager and players. Seriously. One injury after another and situation turned so curious that Inter had only one striker to put up front - 35 years old veteran Tommaso Rocchi... Even immortal captain Javier Zanetti got injured and he will be forced to stay out of action till November. That was so strange and so unlucky... Despite all problems and disastrous results that Inter showed, Moratti continued to support Stramaccioni in all interviews. He never gave even a chance that there could be any managerial changes. But they happened... Despite fact that Moratti promised to keep Stramaccioni for next season too, he still fired him and once again rumours started. Who will be the next manager? Inter was linked with many managers. Walter Mazzarri, Laurent Blanc, Siniša Mihajlović and even Jose Mourinho, who said that he would like to come to club but in the end he joined Chelsea. In the end, Inter signed Walter Mazzari, who took a decision to leave Naples. Many were surprised about such step but Mazzari explained that he’s looking for a new


challenge and Inter is a place, where he could find such. Indeed. Current Inter would be a serious challenge for every manager. I think even for Jose Mourinho in case, if he would make his return to Italy. If Mazzari will fail to impress and bring back at least some success, his image and career perspectives gonna be damaged for sure and he’ll remain just an average manager. No more or less than that. Just average. If he will succeed and bring some trophies, then he will become a living hero in the eyes of Nerazurri fans. They gonna respect him and maybe even adore. I’m 100% sure about that. Mazzari could turn into a successful manager in Inter, if he’ll work the way he worked with his previous clubs. Of course, at the moment it’s hard to predict how everything will work out for him. At the moment we can analyse his comments, transfer rumours and goals he has set. Mazzari said that he will use the same tactical formation (3-52) as before. Not so long time ago Inter had not the most successful experience, while playing with just 3 defenders. Of course, there’s a difference between Gian Piero Gasperini, who was sacked twice per season (amazing story isn’t?) by Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini and Walter Mazzari, who has solid experience and at least one trophy in his trophy cabinet (if case he has such). Anyway, it’s clear that Moratti feels cautious about Mazzari, as he was offered just a two year contract with club. There’s some logic about that. Moratti rarely has a 100% trust in someone and now there’s a situation, when you need to think twice, before making some important decisions. By the way, not so long time ago, some Indonesian investors were interested to become the major shareholders but it seems that Moratti declined such offer, as there were no new talks about that. Now let’s go back to Walter Mazzari and his comments about Inter. Not so long time ago he said that there will be no major transfers, as he’s keen to look at current players and the potential they might have. Mazzari is interested to see how dedicated players are in trainings, what positive and negative moments team has at the moment. He needs some time to explore and learn that. And now seems that he can make decisions in a short period. Inter already has made some changes in their roster for the next season. Club didn’t offered contract extension to Serbian veteran midfield Dejan Stanković and he was released by club. Another veteran, Antonio Cassano also won’t be the part of Inter in the next season. He has been loaned out to Parma. There are also some additions. Inter paid €7.5 million for 21 years old Algerian striker Ishak Belfodil, who previously played for Parma (8 goals in 33 games last season). Another striker was bought from Sampdoria. €6 million were paid for 20 years old Argentine Mauro Icardi (11 goals in 33 games last season). €6 were also paid to Palermo for another Argentinian footballer, 28 years old centre back Matías Silvestre. Inter also looked for addition in Southern America and they spent €2.3 million for 20 years old Uruguayan winger Diego Laxalt, who started

his career in Defensor Sporting, appearing in 15 games last season. Laxalt also played was a part of Uruguay squad in 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Besides these additions, Inter also was joined by some free agents, as Rubén Botta (23 years old midfielder), Juan Pablo Carrizo (29, goalkeeper) and Hugo Campagnaro (33, defender). There would be no surprise, if Mazzari would also give a chance for some of the players, who were given out of loan last season. Financial situation of Inter isn’t perfect and it never has been such. Anyway, I’m sure that Massimo Moratti will do his best to bring some quality players, if there will be such a need. Squad could totally transformed and just 4-5 players can be sure that they won’t be sold or loaned out next season: Zanetti, Guarin, Ranocchia, Handanovic and maybe also Kovacic. Probably most of the young players gonna be loaned out once again. Weakest points for Inter are defence and attack. Inter needs to buy few experienced defenders, because there’s plenty of young and perspective ones. You can already count on Ranocchia but about Juan Jesus and Samuel there are still some doubts. First still lacks experience in Serie A and he isn’t so consistent for now. Different situation is with Samuel, who is simply getting older and injuries also can easily affect him and knock out of action for a long time. If we look on Inter’s attacking line, situation is even worse. At the moment, Inter has no striker that you could 100% count on. Milito is injured till August and there’s no guarantee that he’ll return back and his impact gonna be immediate. I think Nerazurri fans can only hope that Icardi gonna quickly find his place in new team and bring more goals then last season. Of course, there still could be some additions. As every summer, there’s a lot of various rumours. Only problem is that you can’t really predict, which one gonna happen and which one is false. Recently there was a comment from Moratti, who said that Mazzari is preparing a list of players he would like to see in team. There are some things I really like about Walter Mazzari. He looks like a manager, who really is hungry for new challenges and he isn’t afraid from problems. That’s important. He has that confidence, otherwise he wouldn’t leave Napoli. Mazzari is keen to have the players he can trust and lead to the titles. Inter could be the team, where Mazzari gonna fulfil his ideas and bring some quality football. But it’s also a fact that Inter needs some restoration, some major changes. And it may be a problem, as you can’t build a new team in just one or two seasons. It takes some time and patience. And I’m not really sure, how patient is Massimo Moratti. If he wants to see changes, he needs to stay calm. It’s a question of time now. No matter how successful Inter gonna be under Mazzari, for me it looks like a new beginning. I think Moratti has made a right decision. Mazzari could be the man, who will make the difference. I’m sure he will work his own style, as he did that in Napoli. That’s not really a style of management, which Inter fans are used to but just give him a time. Ambitions are a good thing but sometimes you need to stop and think twice, before making another step forward. Now it’s really important to make step forward, not backwards. Aurelio De Laurentiis trusted Mazzari from the moment he joined Neapolitan team. He had that support and confidence, which helped to reach new heights and what’s even more important, Mazzari turned team into something spectacular and exciting to watch. Personally, I hope that this all gonna work out the right way. I believe that Mazzari could write some new and bright stories in the history of Inter. For now, fans can bring their hopes and support together. It will take some time but let’s be patient and let’s hope that we’ll have a reason for joy.


SHAME Stagn *



AME & nation *



In a modern football era coach is the main person of each team. He is like visit card for a club or national team. Even if it is Barcelona playing with all football stars and wins many tournaments, people will ask: „but who is the head coach of this team?” In the same time the most part of society (biggest percentage of that called „usual” football fans and just spectators) won’t be interested a lot about what’s happening inside of the team – what are the names or those several office-holders and what they do for development and so on. I just mean it in general context. Person that is very close for the club will be always interested in all what is happening in this team. But overall – usual Barcelona, Bayern or Spain national team fan won’t mind a lot how it is about team’s owners. He notices players, coach, enjoys the game they are showing and it is normal practice. It means they are doing great job, so that noone mentions them. Same is saying about referee – the less mentioned, the better job he is doing. However, Latvian national football team is different story. I understand that some of you might be tired of all these articles about Latvian team’s miseries and problems but trust me – this time everything has gone too far and I suppose this will be the final article about all what causes this team and its coach Aleksandrs Starkovs till that moment when he finally will get some feelings of disgrace and leave the post. Why? Because Latvian national football team with its „genius” coach and „clever” management lords has reached the worst ever possible spot. First argument talks about it by itself – Latvia has reached the lowest position in its history in FIFA ranking – 119th place. Of course many say that it is not objective measurement of team strength. But how can it be not objective in Latvia’s case? Team has won just 1 hard game against complete outsider Liechtenstein, ended game in a draw against same team in guests and then lost 4 games without any chances. Such start (or wait, what we are talking about, qualification stage is reaching already ending phase?) is the worst of all several last years for Latvia. If before team had some ambitions and there was no big thinking about „how to take 3 points from Liechtenstein, Luxembourg or San Marino” but sooner how to show some resistance against stronger teams, then now it has gone all the way out. Draw against teams from the last spot is equal to victory and such loss like 0:5 against Bosnia and Herzegovina (last Latvia’s game in WC qualification tournament) is considered just as „unlucky” game. Very unlucky, unless Latvia could create at least one real chance for scoring and make more than 3 good passes. Where are we going is the question? But the main problem is the difference between Latvian football fans and Latvian Football Federation (LFF). If fans are tired of all this farce and want to see coach Starkovs to finally leave the post, then LFF members are against this idea. They motivate it with usual sentence that appeared also before this cycle – „Better coach than Mr. Starkovs we are unable to find”. The most „incredible” presentation at the press conference came from LFF president Guntis Indriksons. At first after this hard one hopeless loss against Bosnia and Herzegovina Indriksons seemed to be confident about Starkovs upcoming destiny: „We will go through this situation and I can say that some changes must be done”. Naive ones accepted this statement as the only truth and thought that grass suddenly has become more green than before. Others, who follow football and work of LFF and Indriksons for more than few years felt that something is not clear there. And they were right. Not long after this first statement, with a break of few days, Indriksons came out with another statement which showed his real attitude and respect to all the fans. His statement sounded approx like this: „It would be the biggest stupidity to fire Starkovs right now. We must understand that in Latvia noone is better him, he is the best. Foreign coaches? Well, they cost a lot and Federation budget is not that big to hire some high class foreign coach. We will see how will it go with games against Lithuania (Latvia has two games left against Lithuania, then one against Slovakia and Greece in this qualification cycle) and if some positive result will come out of this, then we will strictly think about Starkovs change. I repeat once again – there is no better coaches than him here.” Direction is clear – noone wants to take the responsibility. Indriksons puts all blame on the lack of good coaches and limited financial abilities, Starkovs in the same time pretends that nothing has happened. Team lost 0:5 – no problem, guys did their best. Next time 0:8 – you must understand, now there are no weak teams left and our players had bad day. And so on. Actually, feels hard to write this and for some of you it surely sounds unbelievable but it is the only sad truth here. I am sure that many can’t imagine how can it be possible that all around national team, which is national treasure for every country, is such a mess and drift. Especially, when such teams like Slovakia, which didn’t manage to win Liechtenstein in Vaduz (game ended 1:1), immediately fired team’s head coaches. Can you imagine – it was done after the DRAW! Slovakian Football Federation saw it as disrespect to their football, their fans, they felt ashamed that they didn’t manage to take a win over Liechtenstein, team, in which not all players are professionals. No matter this game was played in guests, no matter Liechtenstein is not as weak as before 3 years, no matter several more factors. They just couldn’t accept that. And they did a move. They have different philosophy. If LFF thinks that no coach can help to improve team’s results, other football federations like Slovakian knows that nothing will change if you don’t change anything. It is all simple. That’s why it is stupid to say the least – make such statements in which Starkovs is put higher than the others, despite he is full of stagnancy, he has no inovative ideas how to strenghten team and has his own favorite player list. He picks up mostly players from the Latvian club Skonto FC just because the president of this club is... yeah, same Indriksons. Mutual (un)cooperation. And just think about it – no resposibility! Both Indriksons and Starkovs has mutual interests. Starkovs can be calm and earn his fine money (by rumours – around 80 000 euro by one qualification cycle) with doing nothing. He surely understands that Latvia National team is his last such level place for him as a coach. When he will be fired (if this will happen before his pass out of course), then for 99% it is clear he won’t find any such level job. Indriksons, in the same time, is interested into Starkovs as a person who can be moved. If he will ask him to take some Skonto FC players to the national team – Starkovs will do it. If needed to say something special for media sources, Starkovs is right here! In other words to explain – Indriksons pays for Starkovs to get his personal social benefit, meanwhile Starkovs earns a lot for his future by working in a veeeery calm place as the national team head coache’s post shouldn’t be. But it is. Beside all this there is another bad tendency and it comes from the Latvian players. Sooner it looks as demotivation but less and less some of them complains about team’s results. If before 5-10 years it was clearly seen that players are interested into that how Latvia plays and they are eager to help with all they can and mad when things don’t go so well, then now it seems that Starkovs has given them this syndrome of loserism, noobnessity or call how you want. Players are used to this situation in the team, they see that nothing really happens even if team loses by several goal difference or can’t win half-amateur team. They also see that for most of them place in the squad is guaranteed no matter what. Lately although Starkovs has done some rotations but they were more symbolic than practic and valuable. He can’t risk not to do anything, so he changes few players by their positions for few games and then change back the old ones. Despiteful but also eye-closing tactic. You think he is doing something, while in reality not even close that. Results explain it. Percentually by last years Latvia has less and less influence on positive results. Win/loss difference becomes more and more pitiful. If around the times when Latvia managed to qualify for EURO 2004 it was like wins take the fine lead over loses, then now loses are the most dominant ones. Then hard draws against small countries. That’s all. Making summary for all this up, it is clear that such sentences „noone better Starkovs, no guarantee that it will change something” are just nonsense. Noone better Starkovs? How can it be possible not to be better someone who is very bad? Illogical. Nothing will change? Well yeah, it is quite an argument and it sounds very believable since (im)possible to get even more loses if they are already close to 100%. All these such called „arguments” sound childish and it is clear that it is not question of money or belief in better results. It is clear that noone that stands higher players, starting from head coach and ending with the president of Federation is honestly interested into success of Latvian team and wants to see it more winning than losing. Personal interests is the main driving force. And it is very sad. Now there is only one hope – that Latvia loses all games that are left for this cycle, especially to Lithuania and desirable if with bigger score, like 0:2 or 0:3. Sounds stupid to say such but if you have read all the text before you will understand. I don’t want to see Latvia losing but it is the only chance to finally break this „Starkovin disease”. He is like several year old mushroom, which gets more and more rot on it. And the only way to get rid of this mushroom is to take a knife and cut it off, so that in the next summer there maybe grows some more beautiful and tasty mushroom.


rolands juhna




AS Monaco historically is one of the France’s most successful clubs. It has numerous domestic successes and Champions League Finals to their name. Club is based at the Stade Louis II on the magnificent Monte Carlo seafront. Monaco had various problems in recent years but since Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought Monegasque club, he quickly declared his ambitions with and this summer, Monaco has made some really impressive transfers. Can ambitions turn into reality and will Monaco make its comeback to Champions League? Those are questions to discuss. Cristian Liberum Ligue 1 is getting even more interesting! Monaco were promoted as Ligue 2 champions under former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri in the season that finished not so long time ago. As Monaco got their place in French football elite, it was clear that ASM owner, Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev is going to invest some serious money in transfers to bring Monaco to the former glory. This process has started and Monegasque club management has brought to Monte Carlo some serious and well-known names. I think we could take a look at some of the brightest names that joined newly promoted Ligue 1 side. Monaco fans can feel calm about their manager. Claudio Ranieri has Italian has won trophies at Cagliari, Fiorentina, and Valencia in a career which is spanned more than 25 years. These clubs show that Ranieri has the right form for winning honours with smaller and less rich clubs in countries with perennial trophy-winners at the top. Ranieri knows his job very well and he exactly knew what players he would like to see in Monaco for the next season. Even more important fact is that Rybolovlev certainly seems to have faith in Italian, giving him the needed financial backing. Monaco started re-building of their squad with two purchases from Portugal. Monegasque club paid €70 million for 21 years old Colombian sensation James Rodriguez (€45 million) and 26 years old Portugal international Joao Moutinho (€25 million). Taking them both was a smart move, as they have formed great partnership in Portugal and it

will be much more easier for them to bring immediate impact in France. James Rodriguez is said to be one of the most exciting young prospects in the world. Many football fans and experts in South America have declared Rodriguez as the successor of Colombian football icon Carlos Valderrama. His impressive speed, creativity, and shooting have led some to compare him with a Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. And there’s really some similar characteristics between those two players. Many clubs were interested in Rodriguez but management of Monaco did their best to bring this amazing talent to Monte Carlo. Joao Moutinho came as another great signing for Monaco. He was a target of many English and Spanish clubs but he ended up in Ligue 1. Moutinho is known as an excellent passer of the ball as well as a tenacious ball-winner, although his scoring rate has fallen since his move to Porto. He’s tireless worker and he definitely should former great partnership not only with Rodriguez but also with other teammates. Moutinho has been a fan favourite at every club he has been at due to his dynamism and determination, coupled with his overall skill on the ball. There’s no doubts that he will soon become a favourite of Monaco fans. His experience should be a factor too. Moutinho switched from boyhood club Sporting Lisbon to Porto in 2010 and won eight trophies in his time at the Estádio de Dragão, including the 2012-13 league title in stunning fashion, overtaking their biggest rivals Benfica with a stoppage time winner in the decisive game of the season.

€144 million were spent by as monaco on transfers this summer

No doubt that biggest surprise for everyone was the arrival of Radamel Falcao. Colombian striker has to be the best striker in the world outside of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and his goal tally confirms that. Just look at his statistics... Since Falcao moved to Europe (he’s another exPorto star) in 2009, El Tigre has plundered impressive number of 142 goals in 177 games, won six domestic titles, and three European honours. He helped Atlético Madrid to win third place in La Liga behind the big two, and a surprise Copa Del Rey Final win against neighbours and hated rivals Real Madrid. Despite not being especially big (as Ibrahimovic, for example), Falcao is incredibly strong and a has superb header of the ball, and is one of very few people to have scored five goals in a single La Liga match - against Deportivo earlier last season. With Joao Moutinho supplying him and Rodriguez providing support, Falcao should find scoring goals with no problem against weaker French teams, and he should seek to emulate Ibrahimović’s 35-goal season last term. That in itself creates an interesting match-up, not only between the two big spending clubs of French football but also between its two biggest superstar strikers. Many say that his move to Monaco was a waste and Falcao didn’t took the chance to join one of the English clubs, I don’t agree with that. Sure, Ligue 1 isn’t the strongest league in Europe but you need to bring such players, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Radamel Falcao to raise the interest and intrigue about French football. You need to invest, you need to take some expenses and risks, as PSG did and as Monaco does this summer. Media had huge interest about these three newcomers but Monaco has brought also some less expensive and fancy players to their squad. Club paid €4 million for 21 years old Valenciennes defender Nicolas Isimat-Mirin. Young centre back showed some quality football last season and he has a good potential to become one of the best defenders in Ligue 1. Recently, Monaco also brought French veteran midfielder, 29 years old Jérémy Toulalan from Malaga. His experience should strengthen midfield line of his new club. Monaco also surprised fans with some free transfers. Club was joined by 35 years old Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho, who previously played from Real Madrid. Maybe he’s getting too old and too slow for such club, as Real Madrid but I’m sure he will be good enough for Ligue 1 and he definitely has a good experience behind him. Carvalho could become a good mentor for his younger teammates. Same I can say about 33 years old wingback Eric Abidal, who left Barcelona at the end of last season. He had some major health issues in last few years but despite them, Abidal is willing to continue his career on the highest level and it’s a nice move from Monaco. Frenchmen is a real professional and I’m sure he will bring


some positive impact for Monaco. He’s a really inspiring person and he deserves the respect from fans and other players. I think Ranieri made a good choice, by inviting these two veterans. He knows what they’re capable to do. Recently, there were also rumours that Chelsea legend John Terry could join Monaco, as he has lost his place in the starting line-up of the Blues. Such move seems realistic. Ranieri knows Terry very well from his time with Chelsea. Englishman isn’t getting any younger but his qualities remain the same. Ligue 1 shouldn’t be an issue for him. Personally, for me it will be interesting to see how Ranieri create a good chemistry and mix of young and experienced players. He has players, like Emmanuel Riviere. Young and talented striker who seeks for chance to fulfil his talent. He has the potential to become an impressive force in Ligue 1.

his players to adapt to French league and form strong partnerships on pitch. I don’t know how well they gonna play in Ligue 1 but I’m sure that Monaco could try to bring at least one trophy to the coast of Cote d’Azur. Coupe de France? Why not? Overall, I’m glad about the ambitions and about all the signings that Monaco has made so far. I’m sure Ranieri will look for some extra additions. He needs to create that ideal squad to bring the success not only in France but also on European arena. He will have next season to bring this squad together and prepare them for the UEFA Champions League journey. Sure, it won’t be easy to battle against PSG, Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais. Those teams has more experience at the moment and they also are preparing for the new season and looking for the players, who could strengthen their squads. Especially, the club from Paris. Their ambitions remain the same. Be the best team in

“We are still far away from PSG’s level, although I understand that the people will see Ligue 1 as a battle between us and them. We have an ambitious president and a lot of money.” Claudio Ranieri Ranieri has been really clever in his signings. He knows exactly what squad he would like to lead next season. Three of newcomers have played together before, and they all speak the same language having played in Spain and/or Portugal at some point in their careers. Another good fact is that Monaco will be out of European action next season. It doesn’t scared away the newcomers and there will be less agiotage and pressure around Monaco. Their main goal is simple - get their ticket to the Champions League. Of course, ambitions are even bigger if we look further than just next season but management of Monaco understand that you can’t achieve everything in just a few seasons. They have the positive example of PSG, who had a brilliant last season, winning Ligue 1 title and showing some really powerful football in Champions League. Les Parisiens handled the pressure well and season without European action gonna give some time to Ranieri and

France and impress everyone in Champions League. Now they will have a worthy rival. With a less challenging league to compete, Monaco should be guaranteed a Champions League spot at the end of next season, but after that, nothing is certain for them. They can follow the example of their new rivals - PSG or they can face some problems and fail on European arena, as Manchester City did that in last few years. They had success in England, winning FA Cup and Barclay’s Premier League, but when everything came to European stage, Citizens looked simply useless. I hope that management of Monaco will be smart enough and they will learn from mistakes that other clubs made. I believe that French football needs such a comeback of their former grand. Let’s hope that Monaco will impress everyone with an exciting football.


Futbols24 Mag | July Issue 2013  

July Issue 2013 of Futbols24 Mag. The monthly magazine about the beautiful game of football.

Futbols24 Mag | July Issue 2013  

July Issue 2013 of Futbols24 Mag. The monthly magazine about the beautiful game of football.