Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Crazy World of Mario Balotelli by Calvin Berry

Since coming to England Mario Balotelli has managed to go from problem to problem.

It was not a new thing for Balotelli as his time with Inter Milan was full of problems as well. Even the “Special One” Jose Mourinho could not control him.

Roberto Mancini who had coached Balotelli before Mourinho at Inter decided that Balotelli could help Manchester City to glory.

Since then Balotelli has been a mixed bag.  At times he has been great and there is no question that he has the quality to succeed if he keeps his head but more often or not he will lose his head. That is where the problems begin.

Soon after his arrival he began to hit the headlines with his off field antics with girls and antics like crashing his Audi and escaping unscathed. He also became an internet sensation recently when a video of him having trouble to put on a bib being watched over and over on the World Wide Web.

His antics did not just stop off the field, they spilled on to the football field  and he has picked up a few stupid Red cards. The red card he received in the Europa League against Dynamo Kiev for a karate kick on an opponent was crazy and these problems have led to his skill being overshadowed by his stupid antics.

After the FA Cup semi final Manchester derby he was at it again causing trouble. He celebrated Manchester City’s victory in front of the Manchester United fans and this led to a heated clash between Balotelli and Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand which threatened to overshadow City’s win for a little while.

Manchester City are having a successful season.. They are in a great position to win the FA cup and finish in the top four of the Premiership which would lead to City gracing the Champions League for the first time and Balotelli could still prove to be important for the rest of the season.

The problem is that he has to calm down and keep his cool. Too often does he descend into red mist and this could lead to him leaving City as continues to cause trouble.

Balotelli is only twenty one so he has time on his side to overcome his problems and if he can keep his head then he could go on to become a star for City and help lead them to glory in England and Europe as City continue to throw money at players and clubs as there onslaught for success continues.

Time will tell if Balotelli will calm down and the only thing for sure is the fact that no matter what Mario Balotelli will continue to hog the headlines. Whether it is the back pages or front pages is up to him.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Champions League Predictions

The UEFA Champions League has reached the Quarter Finals stage and the draw has made some cracking ties for Football fans to enjoy.

Here are predictions for the Quarter Finals matches.

Inter Milan vs Schalke 04:

Inter Milan will go into the first leg of on the back of a crushing 3-0 defeat at the hands of rivals AC Milan and Leonardo will hope they can bounce back quickly and that may lead to a completely different Inter taking the field against Schalke.
Inter look to have too much for Schalke over two legs however Schalke are a good side and with the experienced Raul who loves scoring in the Champions League leading the attacking line, don't expect Schalke to be pushovers.

I reckon Inter will have too much over two legs but Schalke will push them close.

1st leg: Inter, 2 Schalke  0
2nd leg: Schalke 1 Inter 1
Aggregat score: Inter (3) Schalke (1)

Real Madrid vs Tottenham:
After a surprise home defeat on Saturday which was coach Jose Mourinho's first home defeat in nine years, Real Madrid will come out fighting against Spurs and will be boosted by the news that Ronaldo is likely to feature in the first leg.
Spurs have been very impressive in their first ever Champions League appearence and they will hope to spring an upset like they did to AC Milan in the round before and they too will be boosted by the news that Gareth Bale is fit to play as he has been so important for them this season.
Real Madrid however, look too much for Tottenham but Tottenham will give their all in what will be an exciting tie.
1st leg: Real 3 Tottenham 0
2nd leg:Tottenham 2 Real 1
Aggregate score: Real (4) Tottenham (2)
Barcelona vs Shaktar Donetsk:
Barcelona have looked unbeatable at times this season and with Lionel Messi and company on blistering form , not many will give Shaktar a chance but the facts show Shaktar will put up a fight.
They have a higher win ratio in this seasons competition ,87.5 per cent to Barca's 62.5 per cent and have scored 18 goals in the competition, the same amount of goals as the high flying Barcelona and an incredible home record to match, Lucescu's side will certainly put up a fight.

Barcelona look unstoppable and i think a victory by a few goals in the first leg at the Nou Camp should kill off the tie with a draw in the return leg.

1st leg: Barcelona 2 Shaktar 0
2nd leg: Shaktar 1 Barcelona 1
Aggregate Score: Barcelona (3) Shaktar (1)

Chelsea vs Manchester United:

The English media will be drooling over this tie as two of "the big four" go head to head in what looks like an exciting tie.

Chelsea will be looking to avenge their 2008 final defeat on penalties to Manchester United by putting them out of this years competition and the Champions League looks like Chelsea's only realistic chance of winning silverware and they are hoping Didier Drogba, Nicholas Anelka and the misfiring Fernando Torres will start to click and the two that start the ties will put United to the sword.

Premiership leaders Manchester United will go into the tie slight favourites with Wayne Rooney getting back to his best form and if they can hold off Chelsea at Stamford Bridge they will fancy their chances of victory at Old Trafford.

I reckon Chelsea may sneak this tie over two legs with a victory on aggregate or by one goal.

1st leg: Chelsea  2 Man United 1
2nd leg: Man United 1 Chelsea 1
Aggregate: Chelsea (3) Man United (2)

Monday, 4 April 2011

Should standing areas return to British Football?

Could safe standing areas be reintroduced to British football soon?

If the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) have their way then the answer will be yes.

At the end of March the FSF launched a campaign to bring in safe standing areas to football grounds and the move has been backed by a large number of football fans who see the campaign as welcome move in bringing back an atmosphere to football stadiums.

There are many teams in the lower leagues of football in Britain who still have standing areas and the amateur and junior leagues have terraces as well with no problems so there is evidence to show no problems would be created if safe standing areas are reintroduced.

German football has incorporated safe standing areas successfully which has led to bigger crowds at the games and the FSF claim that following the lead set by the German leagues, a more enjoyable experience at football games would be created.

Many people claim that all seated stadiums have ruined the atmosphere at football games and when some fans try to stand up and sing their support for their team they are singled out as troublemakers and advised to sit down.

This would not happen if areas are created so fans are able to stand for the whole game if they like and sing away while the fans who want to sit down can sit in the seated areas of the ground. The FSF believe this would be ideal for all football supporters.

However, the campaign could be over before it gains any momentum.

The 22nd anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster is this month and the 96 people who tragically lost their lives will never be forgotten. The disaster paved the way for a radical overhaul of British stadiums to make sure they were changed to be all seated stadiums to avoid any further fatalities.

Any move to bring back terracing would be met with the response that another disaster could happen which would be the main stumbling block if the FSF try to push the campaign.

Another would be the statistics on women and family attendance of football games.

Women make up 20 per cent of the English Premiership alones attendance with many more woman supporting their teams up and down Britain. This is double the number of women who attended football in the 90s.

Children at the football has also increased as the football grounds have become more hospitable and family friendly.

 The main reason for the higher attendance from women and kids however is safety as grounds are much safer than they were in the 80s and early 90s are there are strict rules and regulations to ensure the safety of the supporters.

The debate will go on if safe standing areas should be introduced however, unless the FSF can prove that there is no chance of another Hillsborough , safe standing areas in football grounds will stay as only a debate heard in the local pub or stadiums up and down Britain.