magazine August 2012 # 6
23 FAIL FOR SOL CAMPBELL SHAME ON YOU MISTER!
5 TO STAY OR GO AWAY? DECISION OF DUTCHMAN
ZIDANE Probably the best player in the history of football
In this edition 3... England - triumph or turmoil? 5... Leave or not? Story of Robin van Persie 11... The future of English football 13... Zidane 23... Shame on you, Mr. Campbell! 29... Forlan leaves Europe 31... Russians starting early 37... When it ends not even started 41... New challenge for Capello HOT
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/Word from redactor/ Greetings for all our readers! Here's a sixth edition of Futbols24 magazine! We're glad that our magazine is slowly growing and we some new friends around the World who enjoy result of our work. Now there's Olympic games in London and all media attention is concentrated there. But for us - football remains topic number one. There's enough various interesting information in summer, especially while transfer window is open. Every day there's tonns of rumors. There's also some transfer sagas whose doesn't have end and no one knows when they gonna end. This edition brings one new author - Lee Holness. He's a football coach from England and we're glad that our team slowly becomes even more international. It's always interesting to see different views on same things. I hope you gonna enjoy this edition. We have various ideas about design of our magazine and in future we could try re-design it and bring something new for our readers. Stay tuned and love football!
Sincerely, Cristian Liberum Co-founder of Futbols24 magazine
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England Triumph or turmoil?
England is special country in terms of football. It's place where football was born. Despite that - there's always have been problems to meet those high expectations from English football fans. Were they fulfilled in Euro 2012? As the excitement dies down after Euro 2012, fans across the country begin asking the same old question. Was England’s performance a success or failure? As we all know England have never been a nation to really challenge on the big stage, at least not since 1966 our one and only World Cup win. So on reaching the quarter finals of Euro 2012 should we consider this as a success? In the last 20 years England have only progressed further than the quarter final once, so based on this it could be seen as a success reaching that same stage this year. Our standing within world football tells a different story. Ranked 4th in the world, England should be pushing for the semi finals at least, or am I just being too harsh? Let us look at the nations above us. Firstly Spain, World and European champions, therefore worthy of top spot, Germany, consistently reaching finals of major tournaments. And third, Uruguay, 2 World Cup wins, 11 South American Cup wins and 4 Copa America wins. All reaching finals and winning their respective major tournaments, yet England struggle to pass the quarter finals, so this would suggest our performance was another in a long list of failures. Maybe the matches themselves can give us some insight into the performance of England. France 1 – 1 England England gave a solid and resolute display, soaking up the French pressure and putting together passes on the attack. Deep defending and balanced progression moving forward helped secure England a respectable 1 – 1 draw.
Sweden 2 – 3 England England looked set to taste defeat once again at the hands of the Swedes, 2 – 1 down and England finally show the heart they have long been missing, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck orchestrating a superb England fight back. Ukraine 0 – 1 England With Wayne Rooney back England fans had high hopes for this final group game, but were left reeling after Ukraine came out and showed a solid performance in the first half. Seeing very little of the ball England had to find a reply. Up steps Rooney, playing his part in the attacking moves and then scoring the goal that sealed the match. England looked vulnerable for the first time in the tournament. Italy 0 – 0 England (4 – 2) pens An electrifying game, Italy dictated the tempo throughout. Although England always looked dangerous on the counter attack, finally a true test of English resolve. A game that ended in a fair result at 0 – 0. This signalled the one thing English fans dread the most....Penalties. in a real show of English tradition, we lost. Yet England’s display was one to be proud of. So here we have a dilemma. The matches themselves show that England performed very well throughout Euro 2012, yet our progress says otherwise. Not a roaring success but it is a performance to build on, maybe, just maybe England fans can finally look to the future with renewed hope. Only time will tell.
This is goodbye...
ÂŠ Photo: Getty Images
To stay or go away the story of Robin van Persie Football is not only a sports game where 22 players on the pitch run for the ball and kick it with their legs, chest or head. It's not only about tactics during the games and training sessions. It is big complex of various circumstances. One of the main circumstances of the football world is transfer market. Footballers get bought, sold, lent and this politics is one of the most important for each football club. The transfer market politics. Everything is just simple – the better squad you build up from your (un)limited resources, the bigger chance and guarantee you get to achieve something and win trophies. It is very common in all kind of team sports but in the football world transfer intrigues can be compared to the some kind of celebration. Cause rumours are the thing which make society very interested in it. One of the best examples how the transfer market works is Arsenal FC. This team in the last years has sold many good players for big sums of money but in the same time has bought cheap young talents, who within time grows-up as the next football stars. And this transfer politics has not put Arsenal down. Team still reaches UEFA Champions League tournament by finishing in top 4 in English Premierleague. This summer is to be the hottest of all last summers for the club from London though. Especially – in Robin van Persie’s case. Before some time it was announced that Arsenal will sign the contract with forward Lukas Podolski. Before this move he played only in Germany – Bayern Munich and FC Cologne. The 26 year-old, who has 95 caps for the national team, moved to the Emirates for an undisclosed fee after both clubs and the player reached agreement over the deal.
Not so long after that appeared rumours about another signing for Arsenal in the attacking line. It was Olivier Giroud, the new rising star who spent great season in French Ligue1. If at the beginning those were only rumours because in the magazines and on the internet mostly was written that sooner he stays at Montpellier, within time these rumours went closer and closer to reality. And finally it was not only a dream for Arsenal fans – it came true. Arsenal agreed a deal with Montpellier striker and France international for £12m and after the end of the EURO 2012 papers were signed.
Podolski said: “The move to Arsenal provides a great opportunity for me to gain experience in international competitions at a top European club.”
New hope of Arsenal fans - Frenchman Olivier Giroud. Maybe former Montpellier striker will become Gunners captain in next few seasons? © Photo: Getty Images
Robin van Persie had amazing season individually and it’s not a surprise that many clubs are interested to aqcuire Dutch striker.
„I am so happy to be signing for Arsenal - it is something that represents so much for me. I’ve always dreamed of playing in the Premier League and Arsenal are a great club with many French players,” said Giroud. Head coach of Arsenal Arsene Wenger was very happy about this signing. He said he believes Giroud will be a big hit at Arsenal next season. The Arsenal boss said: „I think he (Giroud) has exceptional potential and will integrate very well in our collective and our way of playing. He is a real team player and knows how to combine with other players and I’m sure he will do well with us.” In the same time Gunners boss Arsene Wenger intended to play him alongside fellow new signing Lukas Podolski and... Dutch striker Robin van Persie in a front three. Yes, Giroud and Podolski are good signings, great strikers for such team like Arsenal. But Wenger wants more – he wants to create probably the best attacking squad for the team in whole Premierleague. And here comes the big question – will Robin van Persie stay at Arsenal and should he? Now time has come to analyze this situation more deeper. Rumours that van Persie might leave Arsenal appeared at the start of this season. Actually – some can say he thought already
© Photo: pickywallpapers.com
before one season that such unclear time for the club and player will come in this summer. And it is not far from the truth. The main thing (problem) in all this situation is the club politics of Arsenal. As most of the fans know, team is not tended to win the more the possible trophies. Of course, it doesn’t mean it has no interest in titles.
''While I am playing, I realise that it will be mainly me who decides where we live.'' Robin van Persie True lies. Arsenal wants titles and cups but the real situation is not allowing them to dream so far ahead in future. Just because club has sold many their leaders (key players) and in place of them have come not so known and experienced footballers. And in such way it is hard to hope on titles. Team gets smaller or bigger reconstruction almost each season. While playing at such level, it surely ruins its playing style. Yes, it still is enough to get a place in UEFA Champions League but to win trophies... too short. If we think about time back then, one of the reasons why ex leader of the club Cesc Fabregas left the club and moved to Barcelona,
It’s not the first time when Arsene Wenger has to let go one of the leaders. was because of lack of titles. Later he said in direct text: „I want trophies!” And you cant blame him about that. Biggest dream for each football player is to win Championships, Cups and gain trophy amount. Otherwise there is no sense for players to play – it is not the factor of money. Same thinking slowly turned on Robin van Persie. Dutch striker was silent until team still had chances to win UEFA Champions League. Very little, almost none existing, but still chances. When it was clear that no trophies will be for Arsenal also in 2011/2012 season, van Persie started to talk about it more. And officially, with a hidden subtext saying he will leave the club in this midseason. When EURO 2012 ended, van Persie spoke more honestly. He said they made long discussions about his future with Arsene Wenger and with owners of the club but were not able to make common agreement. As the main reason why van Persie will leave the club he named „the different views on the development of the football club in the future”. There is not needed to be a predictor to say what future of Arsenal wants to see van Persie and what future sees, for example, Wenger. In van Persie’s case he wants just trophies. Wenger is not such dreaming man. He clearly realizes that even with good signings it
is not an easy task to do. First of all, team gets rebuilded and it is question of long time when it will play great and players will feel each other perfectly. Secondly – competitors are not sleeping either. Other club from London, Chelsea, for example, signed new rising star Eden Hazard. Manchester United is active as well. If Robin doesn’t understand overall situation and thinks only about his problems, then let it be – he can (should) go away. In the middle of June Arsenal slapped a £30 million price tag on striker Robin van Persie. The Dutch striker failed to agree an extension so far to his current deal which has just one season left. In that way club was willing to make Van Persie the highest earner in the
Arsenal fans shouldn't be very worried about situation in their beloved club. Departure of van Persie is a loss but there's enough good players to have high expectations and simply hope on good season. Wenger is used to rebuild, rebuild and once again rebuild his team. 8
If he can’t do that the London club will take any £30m offer – even one from a rival Premier League club like champions City. If no-one matches that valuation, then -manager Arsene Wenger is happy to keep Van Persie at The Emirates and allow his contract to run down in June 2013. That would make the player a free agent in a year’s time but he would also be approaching his 30th birthday and his market value will have dipped and he would be ¬unlikely to command a salary in excess of Arsenal’s current offer. Approx such was overall situation if looking also from the club’s interests. But let’s go back to reasons about van Persie’s leave.
Samir Nasri also was one of the leading players in Arsenal and he left for Manchester City. There Frenchman won Premierleague title. © Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images Europe
club’s history with an offer close to £130,000-aweek. But Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood admitted that if another club offers Van Persie £250,000 a week, then - Arsenal would not be able to compete. In reality, all situation didn’t turn around money, especially – van Persie’s wage. Actually it was like cover for the real and only one reason – player’s and team’s thoughts are clearly different. And it was one of the main motive for van Persie’s leaving. But not the only one. Meanwhile almost whole summer van Persie was tracked by Manchester City and Juventus. Paris St Germain, funder by Qatari owners, were also keeping tabs on developments. Russian League big spenders Anzhi, managed by Guus Hiddink, wanted also top any contract offer to Van Persie. But the 28 year-old striker didn’t want to be based in Moscow. Russian league level isn’t high enough to meet van Persie’s expectations. This summer’s debate revolved around Van Persie’s willingness to commit his future to Arsenal.
Manchester City has became a club which can take away all best players from another English clubs. City already took from Arsenal Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri Beside the neverending talks about club’s future and development, apparently some alarm bell rang into the ears of van Persie already after he got to know that next season will be much harder the previous one. And first of all – inside of the team. Podolski and Giroud got signed – suddenly 2 van Persie’s level or even bit higher players came into squad. Of course, van Persie didn’t say and won’t tell that but surely he felt not so special anymore so decided to leave the team. In the previous season it was van Persie who scored main part of the goals, he was leader of the team. Now things have changed radically. Not even thoughts about leadership but fear to stay in reserve squad – that is what van Persie was afraid of.
No? Lies? Then why he claimed about importance of club’s future, that it needs to bring more competitive players, so that there would appear chances for something more to achieve? In that time it was clear that Arsenal will sign 2 strong strikers. Countersayings appear. If he wants to be the only one leader but win titles – such can never happen. If he wants the club to buy new competitive players who could help to win the titles – there they are! And not fact they are the last signings. But still Robin is not satisfied. Then what he actually wants? Maybe disease of popularity?
There's logic in this situation around Robin van Persie. His age is his enemy. Even his look starts to change slowly. At age of 29 he already has some grey hair, while 31 years old Andrei Arshavin still loks like 20 years old boy. Many fans don't like fact that van Persie wants to leave Arsenal. But facts not aways are pleasing and giving joy to us. It's ain't era of ideals and idealists anymore. If he wants to leave, he should do that. One thing is clear for sure. With an incoming of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud into Arsenal team, Robin van Persie is not so needed anymore. Despite Arsene Wenger wants him to stay at least for year and it can be understandeable, it will not help to the team to reach some higher goals. It can make things even worse – if van Persie doesn’t want to play in the team, then he doesn’t have to. Player (sportsman) in every kind of sports, who does his job against own wish, is not anything else than nerve ruiner. For both own teammates/ stuff and fans. Since he can’t play from full heart anymore. And such player like Olivier Giroud can be better than Robin van Persie. Just because Giroud hasn’t revealed his whole potential yet but van Persie soon is getting 30, so, perhaps, just few years and his career will go down.
Another hope of Arsenal fans. Experienced and still young German striker Lukas Podolski. Maybe Arsenal will be his club? © Photo: teamtalk.com
This won’t be a big loss for the Arsenal team and its fans. We all can say thanks to Robin about all what he did for this club, in the same way as he said thanks to the team about all what it gave for him and made him a real professional. But now it is time to say good bye, like at everything in this life – when something has the beginning, sooner or later it will get the end. Maybe sad but such is built this life. Only no place for sadness in future is for the Arsenal fans. Team has 2 great strikers, who together can make big things and one of them – Olivier Giroud – in the nearest years can overgo Robin van Persie. Even more – with additional work from the Arsene Wenger’s side he can create the clone of Thierry Henry. You know what I mean.
The Future Of English Football With the Olympics quickly approaching, the answer to the future of English football could well be answered. The Olympics is the grand stage that our future stars need to impress on. So, what happens if they fail to meet expectations? I have heard plenty of opinions regarding the future of English football, many of which hold some valid points that do have an effect. Teams rely too much on talent brought in from abroad instead of focusing on our own youth systems. For the big teams in England this is true, the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and so on, they all have an abundance of foreign talent in their ranks. Now take nothing away from these players, they are talented, but just look at the rest of Europe. Take Spain for example, 16 of the 24 man squad are Spanish, compared to Manchester City who have 8 of the 31 man squad that are English. We are overlooking our own talent in favour of players from abroad; in the long run this is only going to lower the standard of English football. I have worked with a few different clubs as a coach and have seen firsthand the kind of players being turned out by the youth system. We appear to encourage our children to just kick the ball long and hope for the best, this show in the development of English strikers. We have more and more very tall strikers coming through, favouring height over speed and agility. This is a style of football that will not hold up across Europe let alone the world. Defenders are becoming quicker; to counter this we need strikers and playmakers with pace, not just height. We don’t see many English players making an impact overseas, compared to the amount of overseas players that are successful over here; this is because we do not seem to be able to adapt our style of play to match that of other countries.
The 2012 Olympics will give us an insight into the “top” youth players in English football, their performance in the tournament will help shape their careers for better or for worse. Unless we begin taking notice of the rest of Europe England are in severe danger of being left behind not just within youth football but on the world stage also.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE HAS THE BIGGEST PERCENTAGE OF FOREIGN FOOTBALLERS, IF WE COMPARE WITH ANOTHER EUROPEAN TOP LEAGUES. THERE ALWAYS HAVE BEEN ENGLISH STARS IN EPL BUT NOW MAIN ROLES ARE MOSTLY TAKEN BY FOREIGN FOOTBALLERS. THAT’S NOT A PLEASING FACT FOR ENGLISH FOOTBALL. We will always have our own opinions on this matter, we just need to hope that the right people take note and implement the much needed changes to secure the future of English football. Alas, we can always hope.
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Which are the hottest discussion in football? Right, about question - who's the best player in history of football? I can't give you secure answer because it's hard to find one criteria for that, but I can tell you for sure that Zinedine Zidane is one of the best players in history of football. Without any questions. Career of Zinedine Zidane can be painted in many colors. White and dark green for his Algerian roots. Blue-white-red for France. Golden color for all titles he won. Black color for his last game in career. Zidane experienced so many emotional moments in his career and he always was on peak. He never took step back and even at the moment of retirement, Zidane was the best player in the world. First what I can tell you are my personal memories and emotions. Zidane is for sure one of my childhood heroes. Probably, many of you played football till late night and imagined yourself as one of the football stars of your childhood. At that time we didn’t have much information and we knew such names, as Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Zidane and few others. Imagination crossed children discussions - which one is better? Why Zidane was my favorite? Hard to say. Probably, it was because I was amazed by his performance in final of 1998 World Cup. His goals simply killed mighty Brazil and led France to their first World Cup title. There was also one thing I couldn’t understand back then - why he started to lose his hair? I knew that old people can get bald but Zidane was... Young. Then came Euro 2000 and another emotional moment in my life. Our family bought new TV. We had old Soviet TV till 2000 and then I, finally, could watch football on new Phillips TV. France won another title and Zidane was unstoppable that year. Less hair but even more impressive performance. Then came disaster in 2002 World Cup when Zidane couldn’t help his team in first two games because of injury. Third game wasn’t important anymore
and even appearance of Zidane didn’t helped France to get win against Denmark. Euro 2004 was bit more optimistic, despite surprising lose in 1/4 final against Greece. At that moment no one believed that Greeks will be crowned as champions soon after this win. Zidane had amazing game against England. Extra time, just few minutes till the end of game and France is losing 0-1. Zidane singlehandedly brought victory for his team, scoring two goals in two minutes. Amazing! Another amazing story was 2006 World Cup. This year was also quite important in my life because I graduated 9th grade. For France it was painful tournament and you know why. Team lost in the final of World Cup and Zidane retired. Everyone knew that this final will be last game in great career of Frenchman. Everyone hoped that he will wrote his name in history with even more brighter letters. But that didn’t happened. That photo when Zidane leaves pitch and goes past World Cup trophy is epic. There was a lot of critics around that situation but for me that was provement that Zidane is simply a human. Because it’s amazing that in so important moment he let his emotions go. He could simply go on and probably lead France to another World Cup title but... One thing that amazed me most is how good was Zidane. He never let his performance go down. Even in last season in Madrid he managed to score 9 goals, no need to mention his performance in World Cup. It’s clear that Zidane was able to easily strech his career to 2-3 more seasons. But he didn’t and I know that this fact saddened many football fans.
Roots of Zidane Zinedine Zidane had long way till he became a star and multiple times he has told that without his father Smail there wouldn’t be such achievements and fame as Zinedine had. “I was lucky to grow up in difficult area. There you learned not only about football but also about life. There were a lot of poor families in this area and everyone had to struggle all the time. For us, music and football were the most important things.” Living in such area was nothing unusual back then. France had wave of immigration from former colonial states in 1960’s. Zidane father was born in Aguemoune village, Algeria. Before Algerian war he emigrated to France and first destination was Paris. It was popular destination for immigrants but there was limited possibilities to find job and earn money, so family moved south to Marseille where Zinedine was born in 1972. It was also easier to live in south of France, because it was geographically closer to Zidane family homeland. France is multi-cultural country and there always have been some problems between those cultures. Sometimes those cultures are so opposite that there’s lack of respect to each other and even minor conflicts can occure. Zidane also didn’t had easy time in childhood because of his origins but football gave great chance to earn respect and be honored all around the world. No matter what God you believe or what are your views on life, if football is topic of interest for you - there’s no chance that you can tell negative things about Zidane as a footballer. Zidane was great footballer and he gave major impact in lives of immigrant children. His father was Algerian and Zinedine felt proud about father and his Algerian roots.
''I'm very inspired by my father. It was my father who taught us that an immigrant must work twice as hard as anybody else, that he must never give up. My father is an Algerian and I am proud that my father is Algerian.'' Zinedine Zidane
Zidane started his professional career in Cannes. There he spent four seasons, before moving to another French club Bordeaux.
Many people tried to use Zidane in political games. People were talking about thim a lot when he brought World Cup title to France. Many called Zidane as “son of French Algeria” after this victory and his popularity quickly raised. Moment of joy and euphoria didn’t lasted for long. Praise turned into critics and some media did their dirty job, stating that Zidane was accepted by French people only because fact, that his father was harki. Such statement was insult because word “harki” describes the Algerians who fought for the French during the Algerian war and who were massacred or fled to France in its aftermath. Peak of all that critics came in 2001, when there was historical match played, between France and Agleria national teams. Match turned into disaster and shame. Many fans booed him and had posters “Zidane-harki”. In the end, match was stopped and abandoned, because of young French Arabs who invaded the pitch and chanted in favour of bin Laden and against the French state. Zidane came with statement that his father loves Algeria and he has never fought against his own country.
After this statement all those critics were calmed down. Intentions to use Zidane as influencial weapon in political activities but he always tried to be neutral and stay outside all that. Zidane success still was huge influence for young footballers with roots from former colonies. Players, like Samir Nasri became part of “Zidane generation”. Young people who also had to face many problems and come from poor areas got example and inspiration. Zidane could find his way to success, why can’t others too? First steps, French career Zidane learned first football lessons on streets. He admits that playing on streets gave him valuable experience and confidence. Despite growing up as a ghetto boy, Zidane learned how to be tough and calm player same time. La Castellane are was full of immigrants and for children football was most interesting thing to do. When Zidane was 10 years old, he got his first player’s license. He joined local junior team US Saint-Henri. Talent was quickly spotted and just after a year and a half year young footballer was invited to another club, SO Septèmes Valons. At age of 14 Zidane was brought to Cannes by their scout Jean Varraud, who spotted young talent. He saw talent in young footballer who had good technique and ball control. One of directors in Cannes wasn’t very happy that Varraud brought Zidane. It was because of Zidane’s origins. “‘Putting an Arab in the team? Are you mad?’’ told director. Lucky for Zidane, there was another director JeanClaude Elineau, who invited the youngster to leave the dormitory he shared with 20 other trainees and to come and stay with him and his family. Zidane later said that it was living with the Elineaus that he ‘‘found equilibrium’’. Cannes wasn’t easy period for Zidane and he needed to prove himself and learn to control his emotions. There were some provocations from spectators and opponents and Zidane always reacted with aggression. He had problems but he didn’t got weaker because of them. Talent can’t be lost so quickly and Zidane slowly impressed coaches and got his place in first team line-up. When he scored his first goal for Cannes, president of club made present for youngster and bought him a car. Cannes was
''I immediately saw this boy would become a great player. He had an exceptional speed of foot that I've never seen before or since. Also he had this warrior side that you find in kids from the underprivileged neighbourhoods. He was hungry.'' Jean Varraud
not only the place, where Zidane grew into professional footballer but also place, where he found his love, Veronique. Experience was gained, love was found and Zidane moved to Bordeaux. It was first major step forward in his career. Team with higher ambitions and some bright talents. Zidane became even more consistant player. Emotions sometimes still weren’t under control but it had less impact on his performance. Despite scoring only six goals while playing for Cannes, Zidane improved his scoring abilities and first season with Bordeaux turned to be most productive one in terms of goals. Zidane scored 10 goals in French league and became top scorer in Bordeaux team.
Debut game for France national team. Zidane scored two goals and game ended draw 2-2. © Photo: whoateallthepies.tv
Zidane being part of Bordeaux squad. Photo: whoateallthepies.tv
Having such players, as Zidane, Lizarazu and Duggary should bring success. Young talents grew into mature players and Bordeaux won Intertoto Cup in 1995. This victory gave Bordeaux chance to play in 1995/1996 UEFA Cup edition and French team used their chance well. Bordeaux managed to reach final where German grand Bayer Munich was awaiting for them. In first leg of finals, Zidane wasn’t playing and Bayern won 2-0. Home game for Bordeaux promised to be bit more optimistic and with Zidane on pitch. Reality turned to be much more harder. French team lost 1-3 and even Zidane wasn’t a solution to stop mighty Bayern team. This season was simply great for Jurgen Klinsmann who scored 15 goals in UEFA Cup. Juventus and raise in Italy Performance of Zidane was noticed and Italian grand Juventus made one of the most successful transfers in history of club. Italian club bought Zidane for just €5 millions. It’s nothing if we look on ammount of money Real Madrid later spent on Frenchman (€75 millions!). 5-year period in Italy was raise of Zinedine Zidane. It was fantastic period in his career. Two Italian titles, two Champions League finals, World Cup, European champion title and
many other awards. Zidane became leading player in national team, his performance in 1998 World Cup final will be remembered for a long time. Juventus fans loved Zidane. He had some struggle in beginning as he still had some problems to control his emotions in some moments of game. There were opponents who tried to provoke him but Zidane slowly learned how to ignore such situations. In 80’s Juventus had another French legend - Michel Platini. But he was quite opposite to Zidane. Platini enjoyed his popularity but Zidane was less interested in nightlife of Turine. He simply spent his free time with his wife and kids. Nothing lasts forever and Italian period for Zidane didn’t last for a long time. He spent 5 years in Italy and it was clear that Zidane is ready for a new challenge. Two failures in UEFA Champions League finals were extra motivation to win this tournament. Juventus weren’t able to do that and in beginning of 21st century there came interest from Spanish grand Real Madrid. Juventus were stating that Zidane will stay but statements were false and in the end both teams reached agreement. Real paid simply enormous money for Frenchman and they got essential part for Los Galacticos squad.
Famous volley goal against Bayer Leverkusen in 2001 Champions League final.
Madrid - peak of career Period of Spanish career, probably, was the most peaceful for Zidane. He was well known and well respected footballer. Galacticos era brought many football superstars to Madrid. Luis Figo, Rolando, David Beckham and Zidane joined local star Raul, rising goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Roberto Carlos - Brazilian star brought to Madrid in mid 90’s. Such squad was able to bring success and titles. It was also good way how to promote Real Madrid brand outside the Europe and players like Beckham had fantastic popularity in Asia. Real had various exibition tours in Asian countries. Such events brought good income for club. Idea of Galacticos initially was successful. Left foot volley goal from Zidane helped Real to win UEFA Champions League in 2001. Zidane won few more titles with Real but it wasn’t the result everyone expected. Club was full of stars and potential was amazing. All expectations were ruined by president of club who fired head coach Vicente del Bosque. It was a huge mistake because Del Bosque was able to control team and ambitions of star players. What was role of Zidane in this story? He was key player for Real and first season
''Nobody knows if Zidane is an angel or demon. He smiles like Saint Teresa and grimaces like a serial killer.'' Jean-Louis Murat
gave him so wanted Champions League title. In five seasons he spent in Madrid, Zidane was simply great. Performance was consistant season after season and age wasn’t an obstacle for him. It’s clear that Zidane was able to play few season more on highest level but he decided to retire on top, on peak of his career. While Perez & co were doing business and making money thanks to their star players, Zidane was like a silent general who did everything to lead his team to victories. Sadly, football is a team sport and no matter how much one individual will try, there’s still 10 another individuals you need to work with. Zidane was able to create moments out of nothing but not always ideas of Frenchman were used the right way. Playing for Real Madrid was quite simple and in same time, astonishing provement that Zidane is simply amazing footballer. Imagine team, consisting from Raul, Ronaldo, Luis Figo,
Final game of 2006 World Cup and final game in career of Zinedine Zidane. End of career turned into real drama. © Photo: AFP
David Beckham and other football superstars. Now try to choose one central figure out of all these players. Which one would you choose? I know that Vicente del Bosque had a lot of headache because of this question. He had to build team around Zidane and other players were just a part of this talented squad. Zidane was leader and central figure in Madrid. That ells everything about class of Zidane. Retirement and final drama Shortly before 2006 World Cup Zidane came out with announcement about his retirement from football. It was clear that in World Cup we will see last games in career of Zinedine Zidane. I was really surprised that he retires. He still was on top and you couldn’t say that there’s a 34 years old veteran playing for Real Madrid and France national team. Zidane was good as always. France had relatively lucky draw for a group stage. Les Bleus had to face Switzerland, Togo and South Korea. Three solid teams but nothing more than that. First games weren’t easy for France and situation slowly became dramatic. Two draws, Zidane got 1 game suspension and France had to play final game in group stage against Togo without their captain. Situation wasn’t very optimistic but this time
won, thanks to goals by Vieira and Henry. Second place in group meant that France will have to play against Spain. Fact that Les Bleus advanced to the next round was very important. Previous tournaments weren’t very successful and 2002 World Cup was simply a disaster for France. Zidane made comeback against Spain and in the end of second half France was simply brilliant. Vieira took the lead for Les Bleus and Zidane scored solo goal at the extra time. 3-1 and confident victory for France and their next opponent was old friend Brazil. Pentacampeões were looking for a revenge. Everyone remembers how 1998 World Cup ended. Hopes of Brazilians didn’t turned into reality and France won once again with minimal result 1-0. Only goal was scored by Thierry Henry after great cross from Zidane. Semi-final was a repeat of the Euro 1984 and Euro 2000 semi-finals. Once again Zidane&Henry brought victory for France. Henry earned penalty and Zidane converted it into goal. Result was equal as in previous game against Brazil and France was in final for a second time in history of World Cup. In final there was another old friend awaiting for France. 9 July 2006 was special day. World Cup final and last game for Zinedine Zidane. We all remember how this match ended. Not the way how many would like to see. It can be described as dramatic, tragic and even shameful. Such act in the final probably could ruin reputation and legacy of many players. But that’s not the case of Zidane. Yes, Materazzi did his job well and won World Cup but will someone remember him as a hero? Probably, no. He helped to achieve this title the cheap way. Zidane retired and his legacy continues to be alive. He has set example for many young footballers and his career showed all sides of human nature. No one can live this life without sins or mistakes. Same I can say about Zidane. He wasn’t saint or ideal person. He had his weaknesses and dark sides of character, but we still gonna remember Zinedine Zidane as one of the greatest players in history of football.
this photo is simply epic one, greatest footballer at that time simply passed by world cup trophy. who could imagine that career of legend will end such way? painful end of amazing career...
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shortly before euro 2012 british media tried to ruin reputation of ukraine and poland. all their efforts were unsuccessful and we had another wonderful tournament...
Shame on you, Mr Campbell! Racism in the sports stuff nowadays is not a thing that causes surprise for society anymore. Unfortunately, racism and sports, sports and racism - swap how you want, they are very close connected. From sports section football is probably the sports kind number one, who suffers from it the most. And very sad that new needless conflict about racism appeared right before EURO 2012 and how it was clear later - in vain. The main person who showed this bad example of making problems in the wrong time and wrong place is very famous in the football world. Sol Campbell. Former England captain, with over 100 caps in Arsenal, just set himself at the end as the only one clown. Like from saying – circus is gone but clown stays. Such can be described this whole situation in short. But now let’s retain all that story from the beginning. Just about a week before the official start of European championship hosted in Poland and Ukraine, Sol Campbell made sensational announcement. He made a warning to England fans and said they should stay home and go to Poland or Ukraine. Simply because... they can return back home put in coffin. That was only the beginning. Sol continued to spread his pearls, shocking football fans from all of the world with antagonistic tone. „Stay at home, watch it on TV. Don’t even risk it ... because you could end up coming back in a coffin. I think they were wrong (to award Euro 2012 to Poland and Ukraine), because what they should say is that if you want this tournament you sort your problems out. ‘Until we see that you have sorted it out, you are never going to get the tournament. You do not deserve these prestigious tournaments in your country,” said Campbell. No avail to say that his announcement made negative effect and spoiled this fantastic holiday mood. Feelings, which can’t be compared to any other because of their unique – waiting for the start of the big football tournament. Just after this incident appeared
information that the families of several black players, including Theo Walcott, Joleon Lescott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, have said they will not go, citing concerns about possible racist abuse. And it was not everything. Situation became much harder and even critical after the BBC showed documentary where fans giving Nazi salutes, taunting black players with monkey noises and chanting anti-Semitic slogans. It also showed a group of Asian students being attacked at the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, which was in the awaiting to host three group stage matches. After all this brawl which grew bigger not by hours but minutes, it was clear that main author of the idea or, at least – instigator, was Mr Campbell. For that time it was real threat for the upcoming EURO 2012. In some sources came strange information that this competition might be postponed or even cancelled. And it was logical after all what Campbell and his followers did, it was natural reaction of modern society, which believes in all kind such skeptical information. The main thing at that moment was to hope it won’t affect radically EURO 2012 and spoil it’s image. For luck, it didn’t. Despite all prejudices filled with fear, EURO 2012 tournament passed very well. Can you remember any dramatic scene in at least one game? I mean was there any incidents, racistic insults or actions showing the threats of racism? I can’t remember that. Of course, behind the scenes happened also negative things but they are not clearly connected with racism. But for those, who followed this tournament by TV – it was perfect. Hard to remember so calm
and peaceful European tournament in the last 10-15 years, which in the same time was exciting till the last final game. Ok, final game was not so interesting because of confident play from Spanish side and hopelessness from Italian but that is not the main point. The main idea was to show for all petty critics and troublemakers that we, the Ukrainians and Poles, don’t give... any attention to all what is happening outside of the pitch. And first of all, we don’t care about what Mr Campbell said. Since the best reaction on such baseless offences and announcements is no reaction. Exactly. No reaction, which after some time proves the different. And then the only one as clown stays the person, who reacted too stupidly and childish. In this case Sol Campbell. But he got his award not so long after what he did. During the tournament, England fans realized Campbell was totally wrong, so they made resistance movement, creating group which gives some kind of payback to Campbell in the same way as he did – in public. A group of England fans paraded a coffin in Donetsk before the game between hosts Ukraine and England in group D in shocking scenes as a protest at comments made by former Three Lions defender Sol Campbell. The Three Lions supporters from the Isle of Wight arrived in Donetsk today and were pictured with their prop this afternoon. The coffin was bought from a funeral parlour in Donetsk and displayed outside the Golden Lion pub, which is the base for Three Lions fans in the industrial city. The words “You’re wrong Campbell, we’ll do what we want” were emblazoned on the side of the coffin in red paint. The men behind the stunt said Campbell should apologise for what he said. Nick Bohn, 43, who runs a car repair garage, said Campbell was “stupid” for making the comments. “It’s complete and utter rubbish. At no point have we felt afraid or threatened out here. He should have thought before he spoke,” he said. Such and many other complaints came from the English fans in the time when football celebration just got its rhythm. And most of Campbell’s compatriots asked for his apology, which is just logical step after being... totally ashamed oneself! But have we heard till this moment some true regret and following apology from his side?
There were a lot of French fans in Ukraine and they really enjoyed this tournament. © Photo: AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani
Maybe people from England have heard something from his side but anyway, the fact is such that Sol Campbell hasn’t said „I’m sorry” for Ukraine and Poland. He hasn’t said he was wrong and that he didn’t want to affect their image in negative way.
''I think he should apologise for his comments because it was unjust. He's been around enough to know not to say that sort of thing. Let people make their own minds up.'' Tim Ashwell Sports centre manager Is it normal behaviour from the player who was the captain of England team and played his best career years at Arsenal? Many people have asked – what he wanted to prove with his false defamation, why he did it? I think the answer is clear – Sol Campbell felt forgotten from the society and it was the right time (right time to gain agiotage) when to say this. Why racism? Simply because he was not able to imagine something more believeable and objective. Well, we all know that genetics are the main factor for each of us. Others genetics compare with the combination of two words from birth. So, since everyone has different genetics and everyone of us is unique in some way, then would be wrong to be so angry on Sol Campbell now. Let’s be
more responsive. He perhaps has got such genetics, which cause periodical lack of logical thinking and wish to show off. It’s ok! At least he has brain and that is much. Otherwise would be hard for him to play in the national team of England. But wish to be popular once again. Who doesn’t like popularity? If now more serious with less ironic addition, then anyway, analyzing this situation it is hard to understand Sol Campbell’s real motivation. No doubt he got some sort of popularity but at his age, when his career is gone? Is he really so desperate that he feels if it is impossible to get positive popularity, then he must say so banal and untruthful things about racism in these two East European countries? It is already more than enough about racism everywhere, black people rights have been put too high but still they are not satisfied. And then Sol Campbell with his speech. Better he should have followed for the performance of his native country rather than imagining nonexistent problems. Just shame, shame and another time shame. If you are good footballer, playing at the highest level and people, fans like you, it doesn’t mean you can do whatever stuff after ending your career. Then you lose all
It's very sad that such joyful tournaments are good reason for media to gain popularity, making all those dirty stories. It's also quite easy to say about things you haven't experienced. Sol Campbell maybe had problems with racists in his career but he never lived in Ukraine or Poland to make such statements. They did good job and Euro 2012 will be remembered as positive event. respect you have gained by all these years you played hard. Or how it is in saying: „If you have nothing to say, say nothing”. True advide for Mr Campbell.
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© Photo: esporte.uol.com.br
Forlan leaves Europe
With Milan duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva leaving for Paris adventure and possible transfers of Luka Modric and Robin van Persie, one market deal could remain unseen, yet an important one for the world of football - the return of Diego Forlan to South America. It was the beginning of July when it had already been known that Uruguay’s all time leading top scorer, the best player of the last World Cup and simply an inspiration for the millions would be wearing a t-shirt of Brazilian side Internacional starting next season. Was this decision justified? It probably was. However, let us first look at his career from the very beginning. The first club that made Diego shine was Argentinian Independiente where he scored in almost every other game. All in all, excellent performance resulted into his joining Manchester United in 2002. Forlan’s debut was his coming on to pitch as a substitution in a demolition of Bolton with the score 4-0 and the first time the world saw him in starting XI was an impressive victory over Tottenham which ended with the same score as with Bolton. Unfortunately, the first season remained goalless for the Uruguayan striker.
Next season, however, was a relatively good one. Diego’s first Premier League goal was in a home 1-1 draw against Aston Villa and the second one came in the next game against Southampton which resulted into the victory of Red Devils. A month later he scored a brace in a match against Liverpool. It was also his best season as a United striker. All in all, Forlan scored 17 goals during his “Manchester” career and moved to Villarreal in 2004 after realizing that emerging Wayne Rooney would become the first choice of Sir Alex. The first year with Spanish side Villarreal was a real success – Forlan scored 25 La Liga goals which saw him winning Pichichi Trophy as well as sharing European Golden Boot with Thierry Henry. He did not become Europe’s top scorer the next year, but managed to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League with his club. As to the third and the last season for “The Yellow Submarine”, it turned out to be
''There were some problems while I played in Inter. I had to play in position I never played before and it wasn't easy task to do. I had to do this because it's my job. Now I moved to Internacional and I hope to play in my usual position. I'm very excited about my debut in Brazil.' I hope to show all the best of my qualities to help club achieve good results.'' Diego Forlan
© Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe
Forland was leader of Uruguay national team in 2010 World Cup. Many hoped to see him rising even higher in Atletico but Forland didn’t met expectations fans had.
more than successful – 19 goals in 36 league appearances. Diego continued his career in Atletico Madrid following 3 years in Villarreal colors. He ended first season in Spanish capital with 23 goals and won the European Golden Boot the next year. Forlan ended the third year with 28 goals and Europa League trophy and in the following, also the final season in Madrid, he managed to win the UEFA Super Cup with his team, but scored only 10 goals. And this, probably, was the reason he was sold to Inter where he scored only twice in 22 appearances – incredibly little for a player of his level. He might have needed more time as Fernando Torres did – the one who sent the balls to the back of the net all the time wearing Merseyside t-shirt failed to adapt in London team at first. All he needed was time, Forlan, however, wasn’t given it. The time has shown that Diego Forlan becomes a star where his mother tongue is an
official language of the country – sort of a psychological impact. He scored lots for Independiente, Villarreal and Atletico Madrid; 5 for Uruguay during the last World Cup and 33 for his national team, all in all, which made him all time top scorer of the first World Cup winners. He failed to adapt in both England and Italy and all is now left for us is to watch him play in Brazil – is he going to become a nightmare for the Brazilian defenders? We will find out that soon but it’s clear that Forlan needs to get back some confidence he had in his prime. Yes, he may be 33 years old veteran with long career and he probably won’t return to Europe. But there’s still some class and ability to lead national team to success. In 2014, Forlan will be 35 years old. Not the best age to create some surprises on international level. But who knows, maybe Forlan will make us to feel surprised? Last year he helped Uruguay to win Copa America. Forlan scored just 2 goals but those goals were very important. Uruguay met Paraguay in final and Forlan helped his team to win 3-0. Despite having such strikers, as Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani, Forlan still has his place in Uruguay squad. We may not see any wonders from Forlan in nearest future but it’s clear that we will hear about him. Let’s wish him good luck!
© Photo: landscrona.ru
Russians starting early
While teams from European top leagues are still travelling around the world and preparing for season, Russian teams already have started 2012/2013 season. What will bring this, new season? Can Russian clubs surprise in European cups? Let's find out. There are still TOP 5 leagues in European football and it’s not a secret for anyone. But there’s sixth league which slowly is moving closer and closer to those top leagues. Russian Premier League has made huge progress and there’s still a lot of aspects where to improve. While top clubs of English football are travelling to Asia and having some PR campaigns, Russian league is already began. Russian top clubs prepared for season quietly. Some teams choosed to train in Alps, some stayed and trained at home. This season is promising us to be even more interesting that it was before. We saw good progress of Russian clubs last season and current situation looks even more exciting. All teams had some improvements and as transfer window is still open we probably will see some more additions in August. For most of the clubs money isn’t a problem but not all footballers
are ready move to Russia. One such example was recently, when Spartak Moscow had interest to acquire Cagliari centre back Davide Astori. Spartak was ready to pay €15 millions but in last moment he turned offer down and decided to stay in Italy. Despite there’s still some stereotypes about life in Russia, we have some good examples. Brightest example is Samuel Eto’o, captain of Anzhi Makhachkala. Mass media were spreading various rumors about Eto’o and his future and possible departure. Cameroonian footballer is playing and already scoring his first goal this season. Another veteran superstar Roberto Carlos also is getting ready to play. He won’t playing often but he still has contract as a player, so we probably will see him sometimes in pitch too. Some fans love to criticize Anzhi and their transfer strategy but it’s positive that they attract more and more attention to Russian football.
Zenit won title last season for a second time in a row. On target - third title in a row. Zenit fans can look at this season with optimism. There was no major changes in squad and only one major player left Russia this summer. Szabolcs Huszti returned to his former German club Hannover 96. Leader in attack remained the same. After very unsuccessful performance in Euro 2012 and loads of criticism, Aleksandr Kerzhakov quickly proved that his performance in Euro was just accidental. Kerzhakov has scored 3 goals in first two games and it’s clear that he will be one of the main favorites in race for Top Scorer award. Zenit manager Luciano Spalletti recently said: “We will have some additions this summer. Our defense needs to be improved and we’re working on re-building our team.” There’s still rumors about return of Zenit legend Andrei Arshavin. 31 years old spent end of season in his hometown, being loaned to Zenit by Arsenal. Gunners are looking for a chance to sell Arshavin and there’s a chance that Shava could return home. He could be important part of team, especially while Danny is injured. Spartak Moscow had great end of last season and red-andwhites finished second, qualifiying to Champions League. Quickly after season ended there was managerial change. Valery Karpin left head coach position and remained as director of team. Karpin soon found replacement in Spain. He invited to Moscow young and ambitious Spanish coach Unai Emery who previously managed Valencia. Around Spartak there’s always a lots of rumors, especially when transfer window is open. Same situation we can see this summer. Karpin is trying to bring various additions to Spartak and the most problematic position is defense, especially central. If Spartak want to fight for title this season, they need to acquire solid centre back. Recently they bought Argentine bone breaker Juan Insaurralde who played in Boca Juniors. Before this acquisition Spartak bought Brazilian midfielder Romulo who can’t help his new team in first games of season, because of participation in Olympic Games. After first few games it’s hard to see a
of changes in tactics of Spartak and it’s clear that team haven’t reached their best shape yet. If Spartak will bring some good players till the end of transfer window, we can hope that they will be tough opponent for Zenit in race for title. CSKA Moscow finished third last season and it’s not a satisfiying result for the red-blues. Ambitions are always clear and nothing has changed this season. CSKA are aiming for the title. Red-blues still have the most feared striker in Russian league - Seydou Doumbia. Ivorian had amazing season and despite there were rumors that he could continue carrer in England, Doumbia still plays for CSKA. CSKA bought some new players this summer; Brazilian defender Mario Fernandez, 24 years old Swedish midfielder Rasmus Elm and talented Argentine striker Matias Suarez who previously played in Belgian club Anderlecht. Such newcomers could help CSKA to reach new heights. All these players have good potential to become a stars in their new club. Start of season isn’t very optimistic for Leonid Slutsky and his team but there’s enough time to make things better and improve. Tough start can later turn into huge success. Dynamo Moscow had solid season and they finally managed qualify to European competition. End of season wasn’t the best for Dynamo head coach Sergei Silkin. He had conflicts with some of the leading players. Silkin wasn’t satisfied with captain Andriy Voronin and Ukrainian footballer even had to play some games for reserve squad. It was logical that Voronin quickly started to look for better options where to continue his career. And he found. Ukrainian footballer will be loaned to German club Fortuna Dusseldorf. Dynamo didn’t surprised with any loud transfers yet but they still have time to make changes in their squad. Participation in UEFA Europa League will be interesting and important task for Dynamo. Players are very motivated to showcase their best skills on European arena. Dynamo is keen to get much further than just a group stage. And it wouldn’t be surprise because they have some very talented footballers.
Anzhi is the most ambitious club in Russia for sure. For troughout all previous season there were many rumors about possible transfers to Anzhi. They want to buy everyone! Can they? This summer Anzhi have one strong addition. For around €18 million Anzhi bought Ivorian striker Lacina Traore who previously played in another Russian club Kuban. In first game of the season Traore scored goal against his former club, helping Anzhi to win. Anzhi already made their debut in UEFA Europa League. In 2nd qualification round they met Hungarian club Honved and successfully got past them. Now Anzhi will meet with Dutch club Vitesse. Hard to predict how far Anzhi could advance in Europa League but it’s clear that they are ready to reach even the final. There’s no other options. Club with ambitions can’t be satisfied with just something... There’re reasons to be optimistic about Anzhi success. Guus Hiddink knows how to work in Russian football and club management is doing everything to create best conditions for coach and players. I wouldn’t be surprised if Anzhi will try to get another well know name in European football. They can afford that. Rubin Kazan was Russian Cup winner last season and this accomplishment gave them chance to play in UEFA Europa League. Sixth place at the end of season wasn’t really a result to be happy about. This pre-season brought some changes in Rubin. Club bought rising Turkish talent Gökhan Töre from Hamburger SV. Transfer fee was reported to be around €7 million. Rubin also bought Spanish defender Ivan Marcano who previously played in such clubs, as Villarreal and Olympiacos. Marcano wasn’t only valuable addition from Spain. Experienced veteran Pablo Orbaiz joined Rubin as free agent. He spent most of his career in Athletic Bilbao. Rubin has a lot of quality players and also their legendary coach Kurban Berdyev who’s managing team since 2001. He’s sometimes criticized and some people even make jokes about Berdyev’s tactics. Those are critics but many teams know that they should beware from Rubin. Season is long and they can show confident and very consistent football, which 33 futbols24 magazine
can help them to reach medals. Success in Russian league depends from consistent performance, success in Europa League will depend from draw. Rubin can try to perform better than in previous seasons. After dissapointing end of last season Lokomotiv Moscow is ready to achieve something better this season. There was also change of head coach. Lokomotiv signed Slaven Bilič who was head coach of Croatia national team for last 6 years. Lokomotiv also got some good additions. Russian club bought Verdan Čorluka from Tottenham Hotspur for £5.5 million. Croatian defender had great debut scoring a goal against Mordovia. Red-greens also bought experienced Russian midfielder Aleksandr Samedov and Senegalese striker Dame N’Doye who previously played in Danish club Copenhagen. It’s hard to predict how well Lokomotiv will play this season but one fact I know for sure - they have the most interesting head coach. In last few seasons the most popular person in Russian football was Valery Karpin. Maybe Slaven Bilič will take place of Karpin? Croatian coach can bring some popularity for club. And that’s a positive fact. For Kuban pre-season was quite successful if we look on financial side. They sold their leading striker Lacina Traore to Anzhi and earned quite a good money on this transfer. In same time it’s a problem, because that’s not an easy task for management to find replacement for such talent. Kuban remains under guidance of Romanian manager Dan Petrescu. He brought fellow countryman Daniel Niculae to Krasnodar. Romanian striker previously played in Auxerre and Monaco. Kuban also bought Spanish defender Angel Dealbert who played for Valencia last season. It will be hard for Kuban to be team which fights for medals but it’s clear that they are top 8 team in Russia and favorites should beware them. Last season already showed that Kuban can surprise everyone and take away points from all teams in Russian team. Let’s hope they will manage do that once again.
© Photo: deportesonline.com
UNAI EMERY, 40 years old manager from Spain. Previously managed; Lorca Deportiva, Almeria, Valencia
After second place at the end of season, Valery Karpin resigned from his position and quickly there were rumors that Unai Emery will be his replacement. And rumors were true. Emery is young manager and his career on highest level isn’t very long but still he had success with Valencia. His club was losing only to Barcelona and Real Madrid. Valencia was best of the rest. But Spartak is quite another story. Club with long history full of success. Fans every season are awaiting for champions title and they rarely forgives mistakes and failures. I’m sure that Emery can become successful manager in Russia and together with colleague Slaven Bilič he could also become the most popular person in Russian league. For last few years Spartak had huge media attention because of Valery Karpin. He never tried to tell what people are expecting to hear. Karpin always was straight in his comments. Some were joking and making fun in beginning but later Karpin gained respect and huge popularity. It will be interesting to see how Emery will handle pressure from fans and media.
© Photo: actionimages.com
SLAVEN BILIČ, 43 years old manager from Croatia. Previously managed; Hajduk Split, Croatia U21&NT Slaven Bilič is quite attractive manager. He’s emotional person but his methods often gives result. He’s already getting popular in Russia. After first game Bilič gave interview in Russian language and video quickly became popular on internet. After second game he again started to speak Russian. Sure, there’s some accent in his words but still that’s sign of a respect for country where you work. It’s not an easy task to bring Lokomotiv back to Russian league title. Opponents are very serious and problem is that there’s not just 1-2 opponents to fear but there’s 8 very solid teams with high quality players. So it will be hard but also interesting task for Bilič. I think Valery Karpin left his job at peak of popularity and he has set that popularity bar high. For both, Emery and Bilič it’s like a hidden competition, in my opinion. Popularity and media attention always surround Spartak and if Bilič will be able to take some part of that attention and bring to Lokomotiv, it will be also a little success. Anyway I’m glad that such interesting persons are coming to Russian league with ambitions to prove themselves.
Founded: 1921 Stadium: Republican Spartak Stadium (capacity, 30 264) Achievements: Russian champion (1995), Russian vice-champion (1992, 1996), Russian Cup finalist (2010)
© Photo: footanal.ru
Alania Vladikavkaz was one of the strongest Russian teams in beginning of 90’s. Under guidance of current president Valery Gazzaev, Alania managed to win Russian league title in 1995. It was huge achievement because 90’s was era of Spartak Moscow and just in rare cases someone was able to win them in title race. Later came period of struggle and Alania was relegated to second division. Last year they managed to get back in Premier League and they are keen to keep their place in Russian football elite. Alania manager Vladimir Gazzaev (son of Valery Gazzaev) has brought some good additions. Shortly before start of season, former CSKA Moscow defender Deividas Šemberas joined Alania after playing 10 seasons for the army club. 33 years old Lithuanian may not be the youngest one but his experience is very valuable and he always have been important player in CSKA. Alania isn’t a team with high quality players or big financial opportunities. It’s quite average club with some ambitions and strong
character. Main weapon for Alania will be home games. I’m sure that their home attendance could become one of the highest in Russian Premier League. It’s important to have fan support. Opening game against Spartak Moscow was very hard for opponents. There’s quite different climate in Vladikavkaz and in summer it’s not an easy to play there. Spartak scored winning goal only in the last minutes of the game. Against top teams it will be hard to hope for wins and points but against other clubs Alania has good chances to get enough points to secure their place in Premier League at the end of season. Fans will have great chance to see some hot Caucasian derbies against Anzhi Makhachkala and Terek Grozny. Such meetings are full of emotions and they can be compared with derbies in Greece or Balkans because fans are really hot ones. It’s interesting challenge for Gazzaev and his players to keep their place in Russian football elite. Motivation isn’t a problem. For everyone it can be as step forward in their careers. Especially, for foreign players.
Founded: 1961 Stadium: Start Stadium (capacity, 11 581) Achievements: Football National League champion (2012)
© Photo: fc-mordovia.ru
For Mordovia Saransk 2012/2013 season is very important. It’s their debut in Russian Premier League. For first time in history of club. Coaches and players of Mordovia are ready to prove everyone that they are good enough to keep their place and be regular Premier Leagu team. Mordovia head coach Fyodor Shcherbachenko is already a hero for fans. He has built solid team and summer helped to improve squad even more. Club from Saransk has loaned few very experienced footballers. Former CSKA Moscow midfielder and multiple Russian league and Russian Cup winner Evgeni Aldonin. He lost his place in CSKA squad so club decided to loan him to another Premier League club. Mordovia also reached agreement with Dynamo Moscow. Club from capital city loaned 31 years old Croatian midfielder Tomislav Dujmovič to Saransk. Last season he also spent on loan to Spanish side Real Zaragoza. Debut for Mordovia was unexpectedly good. They had to face Lokomotiv Moscow at home. Strong opponent with quality players
was quite good exam for Mordovia. Lokomotiv had more chances and they played better but still result at the end of game was 3-2. Lokomotiv won but it wasn’t easy win because striker of Mordovia Kirill Panchenko scored opening goal of season and first goal for Mordovia in Premier League. Many fans and experts were surprised about such a brave performance from Mordovia. Transfer window is still open and maybe we will see some additions in Mordovia. If some more veterans, who have played in Russian top clubs, would join Mordovia that would be step forward. Experience is needed, because not all players know how to play successfully against Russian top clubs. This club can’t hope for high places but I believe that sometimes they could take points away from favorites. We can just hope that this team won’t fall back quickly and continue to rise.
When it ends not even started
The playing level amplitude of the different kind of the teams in the world of sports can't be measured. Just because one team is stronger the other and the other is stronger another. We just know fact that team A can beat team B or it has more trophies but we can’t prove its dominance in numbers. It is pendent stuff. However, in few occasions this situation is more radical. You don’t need even any numbers, everything is clear by own. This is the story about Latvian club football, their poor situation in the European stage and national league’s influence on their performance. In other words – here in the last years real football matches start and end right in the time when many other European teams and their players are on vacation yet. In this 2012/2013 season four Latvian football clubs got the chance to show themselves in the international scene. In the Europa League this chance came to the Skonto FC, FC Daugava and SK Liepājas Metalurgs. These three teams finished in the top four in Virslīga (highest football division in Latvia) last season in order from 4th place to 2nd. But champions of the league FK Ventspils got the chance to play in the UEFA Champions League qualification. Yeah, it is the same team which before some
Latvian football once had quite solid results on European stage. Some of the strongest teams in Europe came to Riga and played against local teams. Skonto Riga even managed to play well against grands, like Barcelona and Chelsea... Those were a good times but now situation is much more worse. And there's no changes...
years played in the group tournament of Europa League and played well against such teams like Sporting from Lisbon and Hertha from Berlin. Now that performance has gone into dust... Ventspils had to start this season from the second qualifying round and the draw made it that team’s opponent will be Molde from Norway. It was not the best draw for sure because Norwegian champions can’t be weak team but anyway – at second round there are no weak teams in general. Everyone hoped that Ventspils will struggle hard and set some intrigue after the first match in Norway. But it was not even close to be. Conceding 3 goals, Ventspils drove home with heads down. The score by itself was not the worst what can be. Latvian clubs suffered also biggest defeats before and 3 goal difference is not something impossible to play back nowadays. But the most hardest moment was that Ventspils had no chances by game performance neither in first game in Norway after loss 0-3 and at home game when somehow Ventspils managed to hold the draw 1:1, no matter Molde pressed them well. After this duo came such really hopeless feeling about Latvian football overall. Many will say that Ventspils has become weaker by last years – financial problems, reorganization in the team and many other aspects. Yes, it can be understandeable that such teams like Molde are too hard for them. But the game, which Ventspils showed was not even weak, it was very poor. Weak game still can be, if you see some light in the end of the tunnel. In this duo all the time it was black hole for Ventspils. And it is sad and says that Latvian Football Federation (LFF) hasn’t done any jobs to improve football level. Many can disagree and say as an argument those aspects but despite that: team, who won champions title last year
Ole Gunnar Solskjær and his team had two solid games against FK Ventspils.
in the local league and was the best without doubt in own country, had no chances at all against Norwegian champions, team, which plays in the league ranked as 24th strongest in Europe. Then comes logical question: how team, which just 3 years ago showed tough fight against teams from the strongest European leagues can fall down so sharply? Even if it has financial problems (it is not something weird also in European football) and by that can’t show good performance at all, how comes that it still won highest division last season? What is the level of other teams and overall football league in Latvia then? The true level can be seen, if we analyze the Eurocup start for the other teams. The only one team, which halfly did all it could and noone has real wish to blame it for something, is Liepājas Metalurgs. In the first round of qualification team crashed the club from San Marino La Fiorita – 6:0 in sum of two games and in the second round was able to finish the game in a 2:2 draw at home against Legia from Warsaw. In guests a loss 1:5 but it was very hard situation for the team at that moment. Few leaders were not able to play, also new manager at this season and completely team was not reached
© Photo: blick.ch
its maximum at teamwork stuff. And no matter big loss, Metalurgs still looked better than champions Ventspils. So for this team it was above average start though. Very disappointing start came from FC Daugava. Team had to play in the first qualifying round in the Europa League and many fans really had hopes it will go through to second round because in opponents came Lithuanian team Sūduva. This team before the games was counted as „opponent that is beatable”. And this statement had its arguments: 1. Lithuanian football league can’t be named as stronger than Latvian. In UEFA league ranking it is put even 2 places lower; 2. Daugava for the moment is leader of Latvian highest division, Sūduva – in a hard third place which puts it almost in impossible way to reach first place and win league again; 3. First game in guests was won by Daugava 1:0 Put such arguments to some high level team
and for 90% it will go through. Of course, suprises may happen but not so often. But here everything was different. Daugava their game at home played very toothless and unstable and finally lost it with the score 2:3. It meant Daugava is eliminated already after few games. Or, to sound more effective: Latvian highest league leader ended its season in a duration of one week. Ended with a quite shame, losing so important game in front of own fans. Lost to neighbours Lithuanians. Nothing can be worse than that. Not much better performance showed Skonto FC. Team, which stands at 2nd place in own league, had a duo against Hajduk from Croatia. This team has bright and impressive history but for now in its squad mostly are youth players. So fans also in this battle hoped. But those were hopeless hopes. First match in Split Skonto played in such style as they would be youth team but Hajduk some very skilled and talented. Of course, they are skilled, no doubt about it but not so much that can control the situation on the pitch for 80% of time. They can’t be so strong and they are not Barce... Oh yeah but their opponents are the team from Latvian Virslīga. Then maybe even Hajduk can control events. First game they won by 2:0 but with big pressure. So, no matter some Skonto fans say they were unlucky, in reality unlucky was Hajduk that couldn’t score more. In the second game in Riga Skonto won it by 1:0, scoring very late goal and halfly thanks to the mistake of Hajduk players. Fans were happy and upset in one time. From one side it was great to take the win and gain ranking points for country in FIFA ranking, from the other – what to be happy about, if it was the last game, the last hope for Latvians to say the word Eurocups in this season connected with Latvian football? So, with all these loses, Latvian Eurocup season ended in the middle of July, at the time when some European teams just start the season but the biggest grands, like Barcelona or Real Madrid, for real haven’t started to train. At least those players, who played for their teams in the European Championship, are still on vacation somewhere in the south or on island. Maybe naive to compare such things but still lets look on these differences between levels. They are enormous. On this planed called Earth, which overall is small planet, can happen
Performance of Latvian clubs in European competitions turns into dissapointment. And there's not much chances that situation could dramatically change in nearest future. so big dissimilarities that those, who are far from elite, can be called as... What? Can’t even imagine a word to describe. If get back to reality, the level is such like it is in Latvia. And doubtful is the situation that something can change in the future. Even opposite – level with each year slowly, but drops. Heads of Virslīga and Latvian Football Federation just say they work hard to improve all kind level of football but those are empty words. Actually their hard work makes situations of hopelessness. This year is very poor if compared to many years before. But not so long ago the same team Skonto in the Eurocups lost to the team which was completely amateur. Every person of that team had some different job, either electrician or shop assistant. Ironic? Sooner very sad. Sad that professional team can’t show almost anything at international level. Are Latvian club football so bad, at so low level? I don’t think so. Just all circumstances around make it. Still very popular is to talk about spoken games and totalizators, about late wage pay-outs and fan (non) existing culture. This all affects the overall level for the clubs and that fighting spirit appears just at episodes. What to do? About that many sources have talked a lot already, everyone has its own advice but nothing from that has been done so far. So for now, looking at this whole situation, even hard to say what to do. Because seems that in Latvian football Virslīga must happen something very bad and maybe only then the heads of the league will start to think what is needed to change to return back to the level league got 10-15 years ago.
© Photo: full-timewhistle.com
New challenge for Capello
Famous Italian manager Fabio Capello has new challenge in his career - he has become head coach of ambitious Russia national team. How Italian will manage a lot criticized Russian squad? Can luxury coach bring so needed results? Euro 2012 brought a lots of negative emotions for Russian football fans. Quickly after unlucky game against Greece was over, fans and media were ready to eat their players. Then came some unpleasant comments from Russian captain Andrei Arshavin and this story seemed to have bad end. All attention was focused on players but no one really cared about fact, that coach Dick Advocaat quickly left Poland after group stage and he told to media that team showed solid football and he feels good about work he has done. Everyone had only one question in their minds: “Who will be the next head coach of national team?” Good question and finally answer is found. It’s experienced Italian manager Fabio Capello! But first, let me tell you about this saga around national team. One of the Russian media made shocking announcement that new manager of Russia national team will be Roberto Mancini. Situation looked comic because
there was information that already former president of Russian Football Union Sergei Fursenko signed contract with Mancini quickly before his resignation. So contract should be valid. In the end there was clear that Mancini won’t work with Russian team and all this story was useless. Comical situation didn’t changed the ambitions of Russian Football Union and they made list with 13 candidates. Some local specialists and some very well known names. Josep Guardiola, Marcello Lippi, Harry Rednkapp and few others. Media was joking There was also Italian Don Capello and in the end he was signed as new manager of Russian national team. Honestly, I had some scepticism about signing of Capello. Another well known manager who will have very good salary and in the end, no matter result will be, he will simply leave and say that he did a good job. Then I saw that he’s attending some of the Russian Premier League games and spending his time
© Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe
in Russia. That’s a good sign. Recently, Capello named 30-man squad for a friendly game against Cote d’Ivoire. He picked some players without national team experience and it’s giving some optimism. Still, Capello didn’t saw some good talents. Or maybe no one told him that there’s football outside Moscow and St. Petersburg. Who knows. It’s clear that Capello is professional and that could be his main weapon. Main problem and reason for my scepticism is that he’s Italian. Russia is quite interesting country and same we can say about Russian football. Situation at this moment isn’t the most optimistic because reputation of national team is on one of the lowest points it could be. Fans have lost faith in experienced players and especially, in captain Andrei Arshavin. Players in Euro 2012 made some mistakes showing their attitude and fans remember such moments for a long time. Players should feel respect against Capello but many thought same about Advocaat. We saw result in Euro 2012. It’s clear that Dutchman was too democratic. Tasks for Capello are clear - participating in 2014 World Cup and bringing some new players into national team. Capello already said: “We should start focus on players that are 16, 18 and 20 years old now. We need to reach our goals and also focus on youth players. We can’t forgive about one or another task.” Sounds quite optimistic.
CanAndrei Arshavin remain leader and captain of Russian team under Fabio Capello? Many fans would say: “No!”
''You can already write that we gonna play in 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I'm always straight and I'm not flying in clouds. I look at things realistic and I know that we can achieve that.'' Fabio Capello For now everything looks good. Capello is giving various promises and already travelling around Russia and looking for local talents. I hope that his words will turn into reality after some time and Russian fans will have reason to be proud about their national team. It’s also the final chance for veterans. Some of them still could be useful after two years but only in case if they will set such goal - qualify to World Cup and participate there. When Russia failed to qualify for 2010 World Cup, there also was huge dissapointment and scandal. Fans kept faith and forgot that unlucky story. Now there was Euro... Good luck, Don Fabio!