On Thursday, Slaven Bilic announced in a press conference that Dmitri Payet has his heart set out on a move away from West Ham, with reports suggesting that he wants to head back to Marseille after leaving the club in the summer of 2015. His strike has not gone down well with fans and Gary Neville gave a scathing assessment of the entire situation via Twitter.
Over the last few years, FIFA’s team of the season has basically been a best La Liga XI (Mainly Real Madrid and Barcelona) with a few players from Bundesliga/Ligue 1/ Serie A in order to satisfy fans from those leagues. And each time, Premier League fans will take to Social Media to express their disgust at the continual snubbing of their players. In truth, the Premier League is not the same force as it was in 2009. Their performances in Europe’s premier competition has been pretty poor despite a Chelsea win in 2012 which was largely down to luck and grit. So, it seemed justified to have such a team dominated by the La Liga giants at the beginning. But year after year, the team selection has become more biased and this year, it was utterly shambolic.
On Wednesday, the 4th of January 2017, Chelsea, my favourite football club, lost to Tottenham and their 13 game unbeaten streak came to an end. While this is bound to make any Chelsea fan sad, I found myself distracted by another huge news emerging from my own country where, after captaining the team for 9 years, MS Dhoni had decided to quit as the Indian team captain in the ODI and T20 format. The entire country was stunned by this unexpected news especially when the series against England is to begin in a couple of weeks. But the real question is – Dhoni just quit his captaincy. He didn’t retire yet and can still continue playing. Then why is the entire country going crazy over this news? Why am I so depressed about this?
Before February 2016, Chelsea, the defending champions, were languishing in mid table after their worst ever start in the Premier League history saw the sacking of manager, Jose Mourinho. Manchester United were uninspiring at best and toiled under LVG. Manchester City were faring decently as they were in the Capital One Cup Final and had progressed through to the knockout rounds of the Champions League, although their league form was highly inconsistent. At that time, it was obvious that there would be changes in the offices of these giants come summer. So, when Manchester City pipped their rivals to Pep Guardiola early in February itself, it signaled a huge victory and a statement that City would be back to win it all the next year. Fast forward to the end of 2016, and things haven’t gone all that smoothly for the Guardiola and City. Despite an excellent start, they currently sit 10 points behind leaders, Chelsea, with Manchester United and Tottenham breathing down their necks. The key signings of Bravo and Stones have flopped and player-manager relationships with Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero have become strained. So where has it gone wrong for one of Europe’s most successful managers?
The entire world celebrated Leicester’s triumph last season, but Claudio Ranieri and the club management ended their party quite early as rumours about the departure of key players started gathering momentum. That’s the problem if you win something big out of the blue and you aren’t big enough to stake your claim to the top spot. Teams with a better financial pull will swarm in like sharks to crush the new competitor and improve their own chances. Dortmund won the Bundesliga playing some attractive football, but they couldn’t compete with the financial pull of Bayern and ended up losing key players to them. Just weeks after winning the title, striker Jamie Vardy was linked heavily to Arsenal. Leicester managed to hold onto him. There were rumours about the departure of Mahrez, the PFA Player of the Year last season, and again Leicester managed to hold on. Eventually there was a casualty as N’Golo Kante moved to Stamford Bridge.
Euro 2016 came to an end on Sunday at the Stade de France as Portugal clinched a hard fought game in the dying moments with a superb strike from Eder. I made my Worst Team of the Tournament last week. Now it’s time to look at the best players of the tournament. There maybe a few surprise inclusions and exclusions. But I believe that I have done justice with my team selection. Here’s a look at the best XI at Euro 2016.
Euro 2016 has reached its final stage as hosts France are set to face Portugal at the Stade de France in a couple of days time. The tournament has been filled with brilliant goals, comebacks, upsets and fairy-tale runs. Many stars have stepped up to do their best for their teams. However, a few failed to step up at the big stage despite coming into the tournament with a lot of promise. These aren’t necessarily the worst players in the tournament. But they all have the potential to be big and they failed miserably. Here’s a look at the Worst XI of the tournament.
Antoine Griezmann was at his very best as two goals from the forward secured a spot in the finals for the hosts, France. It wasn’t the easiest of games though as Germany were perhaps the better side for much of the match. It took a series of last ditch defending and some magnificent saves from Hugo Lloris to keep their clean sheet intact. With this victory, France are set to face Portugal in the finals of Euro 2016 at Stade de France on Sunday.
In 2012, Portugal needed a win against the Dutch to qualify from the group and fell behind quite early to a Van Der Vaart strike. Ronaldo stepped up with two quality goals as he bossed the then world cup runners-up to guide his team through. in 2014, when Portugal needed to beat Sweden to book a place in Brazil, he scored 4 times over the two legs including a memorable hat-trick in the second which eventually won him the Ballon D’Or that year. This year, in the do-or-die match against Hungary, he pulled his side from behind thrice, with two goals and an assist in the 3-3 thriller. Whenever his side need him the most, he delivers and he does so in style. Against Wales, he delivered the goods yet again. After a dull first half, Ronaldo opened the scoring with a thumping header that was reminiscent of his header against Manchester United in the Champions League in 2013. Two minutes later, he turned provider, albeit inadvertently, as his scuffed shot was diverted in by Nani. Suddenly, it was all Portugal and their captain was at the heart of everything good. His free kick soared just high of the crossbar and his calm play in the final minutes halted the Welsh team from gathering momentum as Portugal saw the game out comfortably. Bale tried his best to conjure up something but the night belonged to his Real Madrid teammate who had risen to the occasion yet again.