Joe Hart no longer the best English Goalkeeper?

Since 2012, Joe Hart has been England’s first choice goalkeeper. Three successive England managers – Fabio Capello, Roy Hodgson and Gareth Southgate – have all showed great faith in the Manchester City goalkeeper over the course of the last seven years.

While he has largely repaid their faith, he is also prone to making errors, such as allowing Gareth Bale to score from a long range free-kick in England’s 2-1 win over Wales in the group stage of Euro 2016. Therefore, there is room for other goalkeepers to challenge Hart for a place in manager Southgate’s side.

Joe Hart

A few contenders exist.  Some have done so for a bit longer, whilst others are starting to establishing themselves as potential England candidates. Already with some playing experience for The Three Lions and perhaps part of a group of possible replacements for Hart are Jack Butland and Fraser Forster.

One name catching the eye of pundits and fans alike is Burnley’s backup goalkeeper Nick Pope who is taking advantage of the injury to Tom Heaton to stake a claim as a starter in the English Premier League. Pope remains a rather fresh face in EPL, with no prior experience at the top level, yet his recent performances for Burnley show he is worth keeping eyes on.

Another goalkeeper worth mentioning whilst he is gradually developing a good reputation is Jordan Pickford. Despite Sunderland being defensively susceptible last season, the 23-year-old Pickford excelled to earn himself a move to Everton.

At Everton he trains with the assured Dutchman Maarten Stekelenburg, who provides healthy competition for Pickford and can play a role in his progression. Pickford has represented England at every level from U-16’s to U-21’s.

At present, Hart remains England’s no.1, but his hold on the position is not as strong as it once was.  He has the opportunity to earn a spot to play at his second World Cup finals by doing well for West Ham.  Additional incentive exist for him to do so, from the way Pep Guardiola set him aside at Manchester City to his struggles with Torino in Serie A.

Perhaps an even greater motivation for Hart is the presence of goalkeepers such as Butland and Forster, along with the emergence of Pickford and Pope. Nevertheless, the greatest incentive of all, for any footballer, would be to participate in a World Cup tournament so Hart needs to step up for the Hammers in order to secure his place in England’s squad for Russia 2018!

Falcao’s Resurgence Complete: One of Best Strikers in Ligue 1

For two seasons, Radamel Falcao’s best form completely deserted him. Previously a prolific goal scorer for FC Porto, Atletico Madrid and AS Monaco, on loan from the Ligue 1 club to Manchester United and then Chelsea, the Colombian struggled to make a positive impact in the English Premier League.

In a combined 36 Premier League appearances, he scored just five goals, whilst unable to retain full fitness. Only occasionally did he show glimpses of his predatory instincts which along with his indefatigable work rate, combined to make him one of European football’s most feared strikers.

At one point, a fine instinctive finish on just his fourth appearance for Manchester United against Everton indicated he could become a success in English football. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to build upon that good start, as Falcao returned to Monaco from Chelsea after having made just one substitute appearance in his last seven months for a side then managed by Guus Hiddink.

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Rather than losing all his confidence following his disappointing and frustrating two years in England, the former River Plate striker, showed great determination and desire to re-establish himself as a key player for Monaco. He has done so, emphatically.

As well as ending his first season back in France as the third top goal scorer in Ligue 1 with 21 goals, with only Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette finding the net more often, Falcao excelled in the Champions League.

With Monaco reaching the semi-final, he scored seven times in ten appearances, including twice in the away leg of their last 16 encounter against Manchester City. His goals proved vital, as they enabled his team to advance on away goals after the tie ended 6-6 on aggregate.

The ghosts of the feared striker who scored regularly prior to his injury leading to World Cup 2014 (which he missed) did not torment Falcao but rather fueled his turnaround. He has continued to score at a great this season- he has already managed to find the back of the net 13 times in just 9 league appearances.

Now captain of Monaco, the club he initially joined from Porto in 2013, Falcao scored twice in the 6-1 destruction of Marseille. The class and confidence which he exuded prior to his disappointing spell in England has fully returned.

More than just being a great benefit to his current club Monaco and the Colombian national team as well as football in general, his resurgence serves as a timely reminder for those struggling to recover from serious injury. Work hard and put in the hours to rediscover your fitness and form but, above all, believe in yourself and you may end up a rejuvenated star like Falcao.

 

Quality does not diminish with age for David Silva

David Silva

Although now in his 32nd year, David Silva remains a player of immense quality, which shows no sign of diminishing.

As well as still being a key member of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side, he continues to be selected for Spain.

That is despite the emergence of a crop of fine young players, including Thiago Alcantara, Marco Asensio, Gerard Deulofeu and Saul Niguez, becoming available to play in his position.

It is testament to Silva’s ability that three different managers at Manchester City – Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Guardiola – have made many changes to their teams, but seldom has his place been placed under any threat. Continue reading

Koeman exit means no excuses left for Everton under performers

Ronald Koeman

Great optimism naturally greets the arrival of several quality players to a football club.

The return of England’s record goal scorer, along with the acquisitions of multiple other talented individuals, has greatly improved Everton’s squad.

In addition to Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson, manager Ronald Koeman also had available to him goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, fellow Dutchman Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Nikola Vlasic and Sandro Ramirez.

Despite the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United for £75m, Koeman and Everton’s director of football, Steve Walsh, worked diligently during the summer to enhance the group of players available to them. Continue reading

Best young fullbacks in Serie A

hysaj

There are not many young fullbacks who have managed to assert themselves in Serie A this year. Injuries have also deprived the League of some of the best players in this position. Milan’s Andrea Conti had a marvellous season at Atalanta before his move, but went down early with an ACL tear; Emerson Palmieri is rehabbing last year’s knee issue and might struggle to re-take his job considering the strong performances of Aleksandar Kolarov. Massimiliano Allegri’s reclamation project, Mattia De Sciglio, has been temporarily interrupted by a big ankle sprain. Roma’s newcomer Rick Karsdorp has been sidelined since the start of his Italian career by a meniscus ailment and he suffered an ACL tear on his debut.

The two more consistent players have been Elseid Hysaj and Leonardo Spinazzola. Hysaj is only 23 years old but he immediately became a staple at Napoli. Maybe not the flashiest fullback, but he is extremely diligent and has great chemistry with José Maria Callejon on that flank. He is averaging 2.8 tackles, 1 interception, 1.9 clearances, 0.9 key passes per game, 0.1 crosses, 1.4 long balls per game per WhoScored. His offensive game is limited, but he fits in fine in a team with so many quality attackers, where he is assigned to defensive duties first and foremost.

Spinazzola pushed hard this summer to return to Juventus, ending the two-year loan spell early, but Atalanta managed to keep him and he continued to impress on the left. His growth in the past two seasons after being a journeyman in the lower leagues has been remarkable and Gian Piero Gasperini deserves a lot of the credit for finding him a role where he could thrive. A dynamo, he is averaging 2 tackles, 0.5 interceptions, 1 clearance, 2 key passes, 2 dribbles, 1.5 crosses and 3 long balls per game per WhoScored: he should not disappoint when he takes his talent to a bigger stage next season.

There is a clear drop-off after these two names. Inter signed Dalbert from Nice this summer, but his defence has been a little too shaky for Luciano Spalletti’s liking and so far the manager has preferred Yuto Nagatomo over him. On the other flank, the coach has stated that the other newcomer, Joao Cancelo, is nowhere near ready to play as a fullback because he is too offensive, so Danilo D’Ambrosio will continue having a firm grip on the job.

There are some interesting names in the less heralded teams, but neither is a slam-dunk prospect. Adam Masina seemed poised to make the jump to Sevilla this summer, but the deal fell through: he has been constant since emerging from Serie B, but he has not progressed much and still makes some blunders at times. Sassuolo’s Pol Lirola is excellent going forward, but struggling teams need big defensive contributions and that is his Achilles’ heel, so he has found himself behind the veteran Marcello Gazzola in the pecking order when Cristian Bucchi veered back from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3. He is owned by Juventus as well. Playing time has been hard to come by for another promising youngster, Torino’s Antonio Barreca, who has been slowed down by injuries. On a more positive note, Atalanta’s Hans Hateboer might not be as good as Conti, but he is still a very useful player with a ton of upside.

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10 jóvenes talentos que debes conocer

odriozola oyarzabal

Juventud puede implicar calidad, talento e, incluso, experiencia. He aquí un listado con 10 jóvenes jugadores de la Liga que deberías tener en cuenta para tu EFL.

Camarasa (Betis)
Con 23 años, y tras brillar en el Levante y en el Alavés, ha demostrado talento y se ha ganado la experiencia para fichar por el Betis. Aunque su demarcación sea el centro del campo, siempre puede sorprender anotando algún gol.

Ceballos (Real Madrid)
El talento de la cantera bética ha dado el salto al Madrid. Tiene 21 años y, a pesar de que disfrute de menos minutos, los que juega los exprime. Para muestra, su doblete frente al Alavés.

Fabián (Betis)
Está llamado a ser el nuevo Ceballos, no solo por proceder de la cantera bética, sino por su demarcación y calidad. Este año se ha ganado un puesto en el once de Setién, siendo una pieza clave en el buen rendimiento del club.

Kepa (Athletic)
La meta de los leones está bien cerrada con su cancerbero de 23 años y por el que algunos equipos importantes ya suspiran.

Llorente (Real Madrid)
Otra de las apuestas de presente y futuro del Madrid. Con 22 años, y tras curtirse en el Alavés, trata de hacer sus pinitos en el Bernabéu.

Odriozola (Real Sociedad)
El canterano realista no solo se ha hecho con un hueco en el once titular, sino que además ha dado el salto a la Roja y pretender llegar a Rusia. Tiene 21 años y es lateral derecho.

Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad)
Con 20 años, ya afronta su tercera temporada en Primera. Solo este año, lleva 4 goles en 6 partidos de Liga.

Saúl (Atlético de Madrid)
Tiene 22 años y es un fijo para el Cholo. Su velocidad, su regate y su control del balón han sellado varios golazos en partidos importantes.

Theo (Real Madrid)
El lateral zurdo de 20 años ha llegado para dar descanso a Marcelo y ser su recambio con vistas al futuro. En su primer año de blanco, está disfrutando de minutos.

Yeray (Athletic)
El central de los leones está de baja por un problema de salud, pero ya el año pasado demostró sus galones en la Catedral y, cuando se recupere, seguirá dando mucha guerra.