Niko Kovac’s job looks safe at Bayern Munich after shaky start


Niko Kovac looked like he was out of his depth for much of this Bundesliga season with German giants Bayern Munich. But the Croatian seems to have turned things around at the club after Bayern went on a five game winning run before the traditional Christmas break in Germany.

In the process after being as low as 5th this season Bayern have roared back and are just six points behind league leaders Borussia Dortmund. The league does not start again until January 18th.

It has been quite a rollercoaster few months for Kovac with the pressure meter constantly at 10, but the club have responded and it is thought that club directors are more than happy with Bayern’s performances. This is bad news for Arsene Wenger, with the former Arsenal manager having been linked to the club. Jose Mourinho was directly linked also after he was sacked from Manchester United last month.

If anything Kovac has bought himself some time and it seems with Champions League qualification also in his back pocket that he won’t be sacked this season at least.

Kovac has had much to say about the campaign claiming that teams around Bayern have improved and this has been a much tougher season than the last one. Kovac said Bayern’s official website. “I feel we’re the Bayern from the start of the season again, that we’ve restored our ease and confidence – and that the lads are fired up to give it everything and put up a fierce fight against Borussia Dortmund. It was a half year with many facets, very emotional, and certainly not boring. We had many good periods but also had to weather difficult ones. However, taken altogether we’re on a good track, and at the end of the day our conclusion to the six months is positive.”

Kovac continued, “Of course we wished for a good start. We worked very hard for it during pre-season. We dominated the matches. The lads wanted to assert themselves after the arrival of a new coach. The performances in training and in matches were correspondingly strong.”

With Bayern pulling three points clear of 3rd place Borussia Monchengladbach it seems that the league has turned into a two horse race and at least it will be an exciting finish in Germany this season. As for Kovac if Bayern do not win the league his job does look like being in the balance, because 2nd just isn’t good enough for a club like Bayern.

Still after a difficult start at least Kovac has won the first round and is looking good to steer Bayern to silverware this season, against for some, all the odds.

Caution should be applied as Gareth Southgate’s England reach UEFA Nations League semi finals

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England have had a superb calendar year which has culminated in reaching their second competition semi final in a row, the UEFA Nations League after this summers World Cup. Ironically to do so they had to beat Croatia, the team that they lost to at the World Cup.

The game against Croatia which was held at Wembley Stadium in London was awash with revenge, but it was the away team that took the lead, and with just thirty minutes left it looked like England would yet again lose to the World Cup runners up. But an equaliser followed and Harry Kane got the winner and it’s true that the weight of that World Cup loss was lifted.

The nation is lifted and England will now go to play in the semi finals in Portugal next June- their opponents will not be known until December when the draw is made.

The press have put down England’s opponents. Croatia have been called wannabe’s whilst there was plenty of jibes at Germany after they were relegated from League A. The question though is does any of this really matter? After all Croatia did knock England out of the World Cup and did reach the final. Germany won the World Cup in 2014, and although they have had a rough 12 months will bounce back. Some respect needs to be afforded to these teams.

Imagine if England go on to win the Nations Cup, it would be the first real trophy England would have won since winning the World Cup in 1966- no we are not going to count the Le Tournai tournament in 1998 where the winning captain Alan Shearer had a face like thunder. If England win, the country may just go into hyperbole. But hold your horses, this isn’t the European Championships and it isn’t the World Cup, it is just a glorified competition borne from UEFA that just adds more football to an over inflated season.

In some ways you can’t blame coach Gareth Southgate and the players- they play too win, and there is a trophy and prestige to be won. You beat who is in front of you and now there is an extra final to be played, so of course you are going to take it seriously. But should pundits and fans? Does there not come a time where we can separate the competitions that matter? If we fixate over every small competition are we all just settling for second best? So if England do win it, congratulations, but hopefully there won’t be an everlasting love in, after all it is a competition that just feels like batched glorified friendlies with points.

Southgate is a good coach, a good listener and has a real chemistry with his players. This squad wants to play for him, and let’s not be churlish here, England does have a very good team, good enough to win Euro 2020? Right now that would be in balance, but in 2 years time with progress made and no hitches, England have every chance. Don’t fall for second best has to be the mindset here. Play these games, win them and move on to what really matters.


Luka Modric: The Croatian prince who runs the show for Real Madrid in midfield


Within the beautiful game of football, defenders are appreciated for their last-ditch tackles and interceptions, the playmakers are known for their fair share of goals and assists whilst the strikers make a reputation for themselves on how many goals they bag on a regular basis. However, the midfield section is one department that many individuals do not get the credit they actually deserve.

Given how football is viewed these days, central midfielders should be seen as the heartbeat of the team and the player that controls and dominates play on his own. However, with the likes of Jorginho, Naby Keita and Paul Pogba going for huge money over the last few years will mean that there are huge expectations on these players to perform at the highest level on a weekly basis.

Individuals such as Luka Modric, N’Golo Kante and Sergio Busquets are few of the well-known central midfielders in Europe that are identified for their influence on the team and on both sides of the pitch. Despite the fact that they don’t regularly contribute to the side in terms of goals and assists, it does not mean that they cannot be seen as one of the key players in the starting line-up.

It’s time to focus more on the Real Madrid man, who has played a huge factor in the team winning the Champions League and has also carried on his unbelievable form into the World Cup as Croatia reached the final of the competition but lost to France. If he had somehow rallied his side on to beat Didier Deschamps’ men, he could have been seen as a serious contender to win the Balon D’or.

Although the 32-year-old will be unsatisfied with how the World Cup had ended, he will be really proud and filled with pride on how his international team-mates at the highest level of football. His consistent and pure dominant displays in Russia has proved that can adjust and adapt to many styles of play and that he always shines in midfield, whether he has world class players around him or not.

Looking more into his time at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, the former Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspur player has won every trophy that the Spanish giants have competed in, including the league title during the 2016-17 season as well as four Champions League medals. Without his company and presence in the middle of the pitch, none of this would have been possible at all.

Over the last couple of years, Modric’s importance to the team has been equivalent to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, where he is one of the first players to be mentioned in the starting line-up and is seen as a passionate leader on and off the pitch. Also, his efficiency and rise from a little town in Croatia to becoming one Europe’s best midfielders has been something else.

Playing alongside the likes of Casemiro and Toni Kroos, the trio have formed an unbelievable partnership that allows them to be on top of their game and on top of the opposition. Casemiro is seen as the brutal defensive-midfielder whilst Kroos continues to dictate play as a deep-lying playmaker, and Modric is the one to drive the team forward through his desire and energy.

Overall, Luka Modric will go down as one of the best La Liga central midfielders of all time as well as in Europe. A player, who was once stated by the Spanish press as one of the worst signings in Real Madrid’s history, has now evidently proven to be an aesthetically pleasing star who has proven himself in all the top competitions as well as against many of the best clubs and players in the world.

World Cup 2018 – individual awards


Although the World Cup came to an end last weekend, where France went on to beat Croatia in the finals, a large number of football fans are still talking about the prestigious competition as a whole and are massively debating about which players deserve to win which award at the end of it.

With no further ado, here are EuroFantasy League’s individual awards per position…

Goalkeeper of the tournament

Thibaut Courtois. It wasn’t a straight forward decision with who was the best goalkeeper throughout the World Cup campaign, especially when the likes of Danjiel Subasic, Guillermo Ochoa and Jordan Pickford produced a number of solid performances. However, Thibaut Courtois showed why he still remains as one of the best shot-stoppers in Europe despite his lack of development in recent years.

The Chelsea goalkeeper was top notch from start till end, and if it wasn’t for his incredible number of saves in the Quarter-finals against Brazil, Roberto Martinez’s men would not have gone on to finish in third-place this summer. Also, if his dominant displays were watched by a certain individual called Florentino Perez, Thibaut Courtois’ potential move to Real Madrid could be quicker than many think.

Defender of the tournament

Raphael Varane. France became known for how complete and dominant their midfield is and how many fine superstars they have in attack. But, one department that does not get the appreciation it deserves is the defence, an area that was brilliantly ran by Raphael Varane.  The Real Madrid centre-back was there when his side need him the most as he stepped up as a leader without the armband.

In the World Cup final, Varane made a monumental interception that prevented Ivan Perisic from going one-on-one against Huge Lloris, which could have allowed Croatia to level up with France just ten minutes into the second half. On top of that, Les Blues had two young and rising full-backs in the backline, meaning that Varane had to remain consistent with his duty whilst guiding both players.

Midfielder of the tournament

Luka Modric. It’s never easy for a midfielder to be on top of his game and on top of the opposition from start till end on a weekly basis. On the other hand, Luka Modric showed how a midfielder can be purely effective in all ways and how an ageing player can store his energy whilst using his stamina to the best of his ability. If it wasn’t for him, Croatia would not have reached past the Quarter-finals.

Having proving himself at club and international level, there is no doubts at all that Luka Modric will go on to be regarded and mentioned as one of the best central midfielders of all time. The Zadar-born star superbly remained cool, calm and collected whilst carrying his country forward game by game, even when his side were struggling to gain momentum or were a goal down to the opposition.

Forward of the tournament

Eden Hazard.  Within this area, many football fans would potentially pick the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe or Harry Kane. Though, the most ideal pick had to be Eden Hazard, someone who was constantly creating chances for Belgium. Despite playing under a defensive-minded coach in Roberto Martinez, the dazzling winger still came up with three goals and two assists.

Even when he was marked by a few players from the opposition, the Chelsea attacker would somehow find room and space to dribble into. Hazard went on to completing 40 successful dribbles and 15 key passes in six games, which is seriously impressive for a player that was heavily relied on. In the end, his commitment and performances was seen and praised by everyone around the world.

Play the most challenging Fantasy World Cup 2018 game here

Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #23 – Enrico Passarella on Ronaldo/Juventus Deal


The lads are joined this time by Enrico Passarella (@Guardalinee) to discuss Cristiano Ronaldo‘s transfer to Juventus, Antonio Conte’s future, the Serie A season ahead and more.

The lads also round off the World Cup chat with a bit of discussion about France as champions, Kylian Mbappe, how proud Croatia will be and Dave (as usual) makes his feelings about England well known.

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Gallant Croatia undone by France’s star quality


Football is a game of clichés. Indeed, one of the oldest ones in the book suggests that intelligent coaching and tactical systems can only take a team so far; world class players are the real difference makers. And so it proved tonight as France secured a second FIFA World Cup trophy after defeating Croatia 4-2 in Moscow. For the best part of an hour, the Vatreni were definitely the superior side and were extremely unlucky to find themselves 2-1 down at half-time thanks to a dubious penalty in the opening 45 minutes. Continue reading

France are favourites but Croatia may be destined for glory


Regardless of what happens in tomorrow’s FIFA World Cup final between France and Croatia, the Vatreni have already made history this summer. Indeed, they are the first team in the tournament’s history to reach the final after each of their three knockout matches went to extra time. Denmark, Russia and England have all taken Zlatko Dalić’s side beyond 90 minutes, which many fear could take its toll on them physically in the Luzhniki Stadium. Continue reading

Mandzukic out to repeat heroics against French stars

It’s time for the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup with France going head-to-head against Croatia. Nicholas Carroll and Chloe Beresford provide their final tournament fantasy picks from the two nations remaining.

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Croatia’s tactical approach superior in World Cup Semi-Finals

mandzukicWhen Croatia and England were set up to meet in this summer’s second World Cup semi-final, both teams sensed a real opportunity to progress to the final. Either qualifying was always going to be a fantastic achievement, with Croatia having never reached a World Cup final and England having only done so once, 52 years ago. The English media, full of praise for the team for the first tournament in decades, fancied their chances against Zlatko Dalic’s men, while the latter saw a real opportunity to progress to the last match against France. Whatever was going to happen, this was a match being played by two nations incredibly proud of their teams.

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Gareth Southgate’s management a huge contributor to England’s optimism

southgateWhen England crashed out of the 2018 World Cup at the semi-final stage, losing 2-1 to Croatia after extra time, a nation was silenced. The England fans, so vociferous in their support for the Three Lions on the shirt and the 11 heroic ones on the pitch, were left gutted. For this one glimmering summer, the optimism seemingly extinguished long ago started to flicker back into existence. Football was coming home, they thought. But it didn’t. However, instead of the usual what-ifs and why-didn’t-theys, this time the team left with their heads held high, falling against a side who, once they grew into the match, were simply the better team on the night.

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