Remembering England football great Gordon Banks

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Gordon Banks a footballing legend has passed away at the age of 81 and it is worth remembering a player that stamped his legacy on the game we call football.

Banks will be remembered for three things; winning the World Cup, making one of the greatest saves in football history and tragically losing an eye in a car crash. But away from the game he was also a kind, gentile person and no one had a bad word to say about him.

His greatest days of course was in 1966 when his goalkeeping heroics helped England win the World Cup when they beat West Germany 4-2 in the final. This win remains England’s only major international trophy, and of course was the highlight of Banks career. It made him of course a footballing legend the world over, but it was interesting how Banks feet stayed on the ground.

They didn’t four years later in Mexico when England were defending their World Cup trophy against tournament favourites Brazil. Everyone knew that Brazil were far and away the best side at that World Cup, and so what a tie we had to feast on when the pre tournament favourites were playing the current world champions. At one moment Pele the greatest player of a generation saw a space on the bottom left hand corner of the goal and rose up like an oak tree to head home. It was going to be a goal surely, but Pele wasn’t counting on Banks to dive down and save the ball which spiralled high up in the air and went out for a corner.

This save left his teammates dazzled and even Pele could not believe it. Though Brazil went on to win that game 1-0 and then won the World Cup against Italy in the final, that save actually brought about a special friendship between Pele and Banks that lasted a lifetime.

Banks won league cups with both Stoke and Leicester but it is on a personal level that he will always be remembered. FIFA named Banks the best goalkeeper in the world in 1966, 67, 68, 69, 70 and 1971. For six years running Banks was considered the best player between the sticks, which is quite some recognition. Banks ended up playing for England 73 times.

Banks is clearly the best England goalkeeper of all time and one of the greatest keepers of all time too, he was also a gentleman and a down to earth individual which in these days isn’t always in abundance with the common footballer.

 

Boca Juniors and River Plate final fiasco highlights the shame of football in Argentina

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A great country, two fantastic and historical teams and yet it has come to this where the Copa Libertadores final will now not take place in Argentina, a final between two Argentinian teams in Boca Juniors and River Plate.

The disgraceful scenes which marred what would have been the 2nd leg match after the first ended in a cliff hanger at 2-2 is the reason behind it. First the final was cancelled for 24 hours then it was pushed back a few days more and more violent scenes erupted. The fans to blame are the fans of River Plate, this time. But last time going to 2007 it was Boca’s fans that had the tear gas out and were then kicked out of the very same competition. So now Boca want River kicked out, but something about that doesn’t seem right. Why do fans have so much ‘influence’ when not one player from either side was involved in the problems?

The decision to play the 2nd leg outside of Argentina is sadly the right one. Sadly because this simply should not be happening. But maybe this is a final and direct message that if you want to see your club in a final then we are going to make it as hard as possible to happen. What the authorities must do next though is make sure the final is in Europe. Move it to Brazil for example and you could end up with even more problems.

A Brazilian final would mean that both River and Boca fans would have the chance to travel to that game and even if they do not have tickets they could create ugly scenes outside of the stadium, at this stage we couldn’t put that past them. No this final needs to be far and away and Italy have stepped forward to take it on.

In an ideal world the final would have been played and sorted now and the most that losing and winning fans should be doing is calm banter. Instead these fans are used to creating violence at games, yes it makes for an electrifying atmosphere no doubt about it but it can cause problems. The Argentinian FA have had to deal with that and that is why no away fans are allowed to attend football games in the country. It’s a step that had to be taken but it is sad at the same time that it has come to this.

League matches have been affected before but now Europe is looking at what is South America’s equilivant of the Champions League final, and you look on in shame and disappointment that such a showpiece event can not take place because of violence.

 

Ronaldo’s takeover of Real Valladolid should help the club progress

ronaldoWhen Real Valladolid secured their return to La Liga at the end of the 2017/18 season after four seasons away from the Spanish top flight, few could have envisioned what the immediate future would hold at José Zorrilla. Back in May rumours began swirling that legendary former Brazilian striker Ronaldo could be considering buying a controlling stake in the club, and those were proven correct when he spent around €30m to purchase 51% last month. The 42-year-old is of course no stranger to La Liga, having spent time at both Barcelona and Real Madrid during his glittering playing career – and so having such a big name owning the club can surely only be of benefit?

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Is Richarlison the answer to Everton’s striker problem?

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As Marco Silva progressed through his press conference on Friday, a predictable question arose. The focus was on Richarlison could be the answer to Everton’s striker problem.

Of all the problems that the Portuguese boss is looking to fix at Goodison Park this season, their goalscoring issues are chief among them. Particularly the issue they currently have with their strikers. To say Everton’s centre-forward options have been lacking would be understating the problem.

Cenk Tosun is yet to score this season and is lacking in confidence. Oumar Niasse is full of running but lacks quality. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a promising youngster but lacks a cutting edge. Continue reading

Richarlison already an Everton bargain

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It doesn’t take long to prove Paul Merson wrong but Richarlison has done it in record time. Two games for Everton and a debut for Brazil have already made the pundit look a little foolish once again.

When Everton paid £35 million for the Brazilian’s services earlier this summer there was more than one eyebrow raised. Merson’s were among them. He, though, took it one step further. Stood atop his Sky Sports branded soapbox, he declared that it was Richarlison’s move that ‘spoiled’ the transfer window. A a strange notionat the time and considering some of the other deals done by other clubs. No eyebrows were raised at West Ham paying £34 million for Felipe Anderson. Continue reading

Four well-known players who failed to impress at the World Cup

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As the World Cup has now come to an end, many football fans will be filled with pure joy or sadness as 32 countries went on to play in the most prestigious international competition there is to play for.

Many young talents received their ideal chance of shining on the grandest stage of them all in Russia, whilst a number of well-known players failed to show their skills and quality this summer.

With no further ado, we now look at the four individuals that had a poor World Cup at a personal level and did not replicate the performances they were producing at club level in recent years.

David De Gea – Spain

Manchester United’s David De Gea, who is seen as the best goalkeeper in England and the whole of Europe, had a poor World Cup at a personal level as he could not produce the crucial saves that he makes on a weekly basis at Old Trafford. However, his team-mates and most importantly the manager, kept faith in him and had had his back as he started in all of the side’s fixtures.

De Gea’s first error of the competition came in the opening fixture, where it allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to score his second goal of the match during an entertaining and thrilling draw between Portugal and Spain. Also, he was criticised and personally targeted following the side’s penalty shoot-out against Russia in the last-16, where he failed to save any of the four penalties he faced.

Javier Mascherano – Argentina

Not many were expecting Javier Mascherano to play a regular role for Jorge Sampaoli’s side throughout the competition due to his poor positional awareness as well as the decline he has experienced in recent years. Though, the 34-year-old surprisingly started in all four of Argentina’s games as he went on to construct some unconvincing displays whilst being a passenger in midfield.

After having such a below-par campaign compared to his old and usual standards, it’s not a surprise to see the former Barcelona and Liverpool player retiring from international football. Four years ago, Mascherano played an influential role in helping the side to reach the World Cup finals, but he could not do the same this time around as he looked past his best and totally confused on and off the ball.

Jerome Boateng – Germany

Germany were seen as one of the main favourites to win the competition, especially as they were the current champions of the world before the tournament had kicked off in Russia. Many football fans will state that the likes of Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller had let the side down, when in fact, it was Jerome Boateng and the rest of the defence that could not handle the pace of the opposition.

Against Sweden, Boateng let the team and himself down, when he made two unnecessary fouls which led to him being sent off at a time his side needed him the most. Although the team went on to beat Sweden, it was more down to some late brilliance and due to the help of the video assistant referee. Overall, the 2018 World Cup will be one campaign that the defender will want to forget.

Neymar – Brazil

It’s quite difficult to analyse Brazil’s time in the World Cup as they did not take it up a notch after the group stages, and it followed with them not having the composure and mentality to go on to beating Belgium in the quarter-finals of the competition. Tite’s men and the whole of Brazil had huge expectations in Neymar, who simply did not come up with the goods in the final third of the pitch.

On top of that, his antics of rolling around the pitch and diving from time to time summed up his average performances throughout the competition. The Paris Saint-Germain star was hyped up as the key man who would bring some excitement to the World Cup and help Brazil to take the trophy back home, however, that was not the outcome as he only scored twice from 26 attempted shots.

Eden Hazard guiding Belgium to first World Cup final?

hazardWith the World Cup now having whittled itself down to its final four teams, it is now time to take a look at which midfielders have impressed the most over the past few days. This was a close-run thing this time, as the players played their hearts out in order to help the nation book a place in the World Cup semi-finals. Belgium were arguably the most impressive side in the last eight, overcoming tournament favourites Brazil. Their 2-0 win means they now face a date with destiny against neighbours France in the semi-final this week, with the French having also advanced past South American opposition when they disposed of Uruguay. With both sides now just two wins away from becoming world champions, much is at stake.

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Brazil bow out following defeat to Belgium

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Five-times World Cup champions Brazil bowed out of the World Cup last week after a mediocre campaign was finally brought to an end by Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side in Kazan.

In a crunch match in which Brazil would have to show their mettle and championship-winning credentials if they were to continue into the latter stages of the competition, the side found themselves behind early on when Nacer Chadli’s corner struck Fernandinho’s arm, beating an unsuspecting Alisson.

Brazil had conceded just one goal in their past four games in Russia and their opponents took advantage of the malaise that followed the surprise goal – creating a Continue reading

Roma, Inter and Juventus stars big part of Brazil’s World Cup

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Brazil were eliminated early for their standards and for their aspirations: they had some impressive showings and were solid throughout, but they run into one of the few teams that were equipped to take them down. They had a strong reaction to a poor first half against Belgium and created plenty of chances to equalize, but were too imprecise.

Tite’s squad included three Serie A players in prominent roles: Alisson, Joao Miranda and Douglas Costa. La Seleçao conceded just one goal in the first four matches and that is proof of their general robustness. Continue reading

France through to World Cup semi-final after beating Uruguay

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France have become the first team to advance to the World Cup semi-finals after overcoming the threat of South Americans Uruguay in Nizhny Novgorod. The stage was set for one of the bigger quarter-final games – the only one to feature two previous winners of the tournament – and Didier Deschamps’ men ultimately emerged comfortable victors. The result set up a semi-final tie against the winners of the other quarter-final being played on Friday, contested between Brazil and Belgium. This will be France’s first semi-final appearance since 2006 and has denied Uruguay the chance of their first tie in the final four since finishing fourth in 2010.

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