World Cup Spotlight – Diego Forlan

Diego Forlan is the captain of the Uruguayan soccer team. The star was born into a footballing family; Diego’s father Pablo played for Uruguay in the 1966 and 74 World Cups and his grandfather was a player in Argentina.

The youngest Forlan player began his career in 1998 on the same team as his grandfather, Argentina’s Independiente. After playing four years for the team that coached him through his youth career, Forlan moved to Manchester United in 2002. After two years in the Premier League he signed to Villarreal, another Spanish La Liga team.

There, he flourished in ways he could not on Man United. He won the Pichichi Trophy, awarded each year to the Spanish player who scores the most goals in the league. He scored 25. In the 2004-05 season he shared the European Golden Boot Title with French player Thierry Henry, who plays for Barcelona. Forlan played three seasons with Villarreal before moving to Atletico Madrid, where he plays today.

For the 2008-09 season, his second with Madrid, Forlan was awarded his second Pichichi Trophy, the first player to win two trophies since Ronaldo in the 2003-2004 season. For his second La Liga Pichichi Trophy, he scored 32 goals in 33 matches. He also received the European Golden Boot that season.

Playing for his country he scored 28 goals in the 2002 and 2010 World Cups. The 31 year old was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. To date he has scored 4 goals in South Africa; twice against the host nation, once against Ghana, and once against the Netherlands.

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Review of Players Short Listed for the FIFA 2007 Player of the Year Award

It is time of the year where the FIFA world player of the year is decided by the votes of coaches and captains of national team worldwide.

But before we go into the discussion of the list of players drawn for 2007, an introduction of the mechanism of the system would be discussed first. The award was started in 1991 for the male player and in 2001 for the female player categories respectively. Basically, the coaches and national team captains would vote for players drawn by the technical committees of FIFA. The system used is called the Borda count where each coach and captain would get three votes (one of five points, one of three points and one of one point) to cast for the players of his choice. And the winner would be determined by the total of points received. The winner last year is Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro of Real Madrid.

Now to the list of players short listed for the award this year. Heading the list are five players of Italian descent, they are Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pirlo. Except for Cannavaro and Buffon (Juventus), the remaining three players of the UEFA 2006-2007 champions league winners AC Milan. However the chances of an Italian repeating the feat of winning is slim this year as the national team did not perform to its best after World Cup 2006 and as for domestically, the Serie A is recovering from the scars of the scandal hit season.

Next up would be the discussion of the English contenders for the title. They are Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), John Terry (Chelsea) and Wayne Rooney (Manchester United). Looking at chances of the English contenders, none of them have high chances of clinching the title as the English national team has a difficult Euro 2008 qualifying campaign so far and they did not any outstanding club exploits last season. The other reasons are although Manchester United and Chelsea went head to head in the Premiership race, they failed to impress at the UEFA Champions league level. As for Gerrard, if Liverpool did won the last season UEFA Champions league final against AC Milan, then his chances would be different. However they did not and Liverpool had another of its forgettable seasons in the league again.

As for the French, they have Thierry Henry (Barcelona), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Lillan Thuram (Barcelona) and Patrick Vieira (Inter Milan) short listed. At the moment, the chances of the French are as slim as the English for similar reasons. Henry has been a world class player, but he could not inspire Arsenal to the Premiership title and for this season, he is still adapting to his new club, Barcelona. Ribery also did not have the best of seasons last year and has changed clubs in the summer, leaving for Bungesliga Giants, Munich from the sleeping giants of French Football, Marseille. In Vieria’s case, Inter Milan did retain their Serie A title last season, but as mentioned above, the title seen to be given to Inter midst point deduction for several Serie A clubs and demotion of Juventus. Hence he would not have a high chance in this year’s competition for the best player’s title. For Thuram, it is even more gloomer as he did not feature in a lot of his club’s games last season and Barcelona failed to defend its La Liga title.

Brazil has three players short listed in Kaka (AC Milan), Juninho (Lyon) and Ronaldinho (Barcelona). Although the Brazilians have a forgettable world cup 2006, however one of three can be considered as a highly possible contender for the title. He is Kaka. The reason is that he has also won the FIFPro 2007 Player of the year award and it was he that inspired AC Milan to winning the UEFA Champions League midst a disappointing Serie A 2006-2007 campaign. As for Ronaldinho, a previous two time winner (2004 and 2005), his chances this year are quite slim as he was not in the best form last season with the Catalans Giants as they lost out to Real Madrid in the La Liga title. In the case of Juninho, other than inspiring Lyon to six consecutive French Ligue 1 titles, he had no major efforts of note last season.

As for Brazil’s South American rival, Argentina too has three players short listed in Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Juan Roman Riquelme (River) and Carlos Tevez (Manchester United). Of the three, Messi’s chances are the highest as he has continued where he left off last season with eight goals in as many games this season. Tevez had a difficult season in which his transfer reeks of a drama serial while Riquelme with his talent to a lot of people has choked on the big stages once too often.

Another highly possible contender for the title is Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United. With his 23 goals, English Premiership Player of the year award and PFA player’s player of the year award last season, he can be seen as a major reason why Manchester United managed to regain the English Premiership title. Furthermore, in midst of enduring an anti-Ronaldo season after his antics at World Cup 2006, it is a wonder that he could conjure up such a wonderful season. Another Portuguese short listed is Deco of Barcelona who for all his talents was a bit player for Catalans last season and hence his chances are not very high then.

The remaining players of the short list are Fernando Torres (Spain, Liverpool), Ruud Van Nistelrroy (Holland, Real Madrid), Petr Cech (Czech Republic, Chelsea), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea), Michael Essien (Ghana, Chelsea), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon, Barcelona) and Rafael Marquez (Mexico, Barcelona). Of seven remaining players, Ruud Van Nistelrroy may have the best chance as he was the top scorer for Real Madrid in their title winning squad last season and has continued his fine form this season. As for players of Chelsea and Barcelona, their failure in defending the title and poor UEFA Champions League showing would count against them. Lastly, Torres, the sole Spanish in the list, like Henry has traded clubs where he left his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid for English side Liverpool in the summer. His chances are very slim as during his time as Atletico Madrid, the team failed to establish it as La Liga contenders and as for his new club, he is still adapting there.

Lastly to summarize my views on FIFA 2007 Player of the year, my choice of player to win is the Kaka of AC Milan with Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) to give him a run for the title. The results would be out this December 2007 at the FIFA World Player Gala in Zurich.

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EPL 2011-12: Manchester United Vs Tottenham Match Time

Premier League match time dawns at Old Trafford as Manchester United clash with Tottenham on Monday, August 22.

While champions United began their Premiership campaign with a 2-1 win, away at West Brom, Tottenham will be playing their first game, their opening match with Everton scheduled for August 13 having been postponed owing to damage done to the local area during the London riots.

Manchester United’s victory at The Hawthorns came at the cost of injuries to Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand whose appearance in the Tottenham game will hinge on a reassessment of their match fitness. Both players walked off in the second half, Vidic with a calf injury, and Ferdinand with a hamstring strain.

Another worry for Sir Alex Ferguson must be the poor showing of David De Gea, between the posts. With the departure of Van der Sar, Manchester United have lost a vital cog of recent years, and if the young Spaniard De Gea was expected to fill the Dutchman’s boots with any degree of conviction, De Gea’s nervous debut against West Brom did nothing to support that expectation.

In fact, it was a judgement error from De Gea that brought West Brom back into the game via a 37th minute equaliser from Long, after a Rooney strike put the Red Devils ahead on 13 minutes. United’s win hinged on an own goal from Reid with 10 minutes of regulation time left.

For United, the brightest memory from the West Brom game would have been the brilliant performance of Ashley Young. Apart from the assist to Rooney that gave Ferguson’s wards their first goal, it was Young’s effort that Reid deflected into his own goal to give Manchester United their winner.

The last time these teams met was at White Hart Lane in January, earlier this year. That match ended in a goalless draw, in a tale of missed opportunities for both sides.

The United attack appears to have got into an early groove following their come-from-behind win in the Community Shield encounter with Manchester City. The champions are always formidable opponents, playing before home fans, at Old Trafford. More than anything else, Monday’s match could be a test of resolve, for Tottenham’s back-line.

And while Manchester United must be considered favourites to retain their crown, it will be interesting to see how they contend with the challenge posted by a top six club, early in the season.

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English and Spanish Started Off on the Right Boot

The second series of fixtures from the Group Stage of the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League have been disputed already and this time the bottom half of the Groups (E, F, G and H) played on the first day (Oct. 2) and the Groups from A to D played on Wednesday, October 3rd. England has Manchester United, Arsenal and the current trophy holder of the Champions League, Chelsea, on the top spot of their Groups (H, B and E). Meanwhile Spain counts with Málaga, Real Madrid and Barcelona lead the Groups C, D and G respectively. In the meantime, Manchester City and Valencia are in 3rd position of their groups (D and F).

The defending champion, Chelsea, and the 2011-12 Runners-up, Barça, left their rivals goalless on their 1st leg fixtures on Tuesday, when both clubs were visitors. The Blues went to Denmark to face FC Nordsjælland at Parken Stadium, in Copenhagen and there isn’t much to say, except that they nailed it blasting the Danish squad with a 4-0; that gave them the lead on Goal Difference, but kept them tied with Shakhtar Donetsk on 4 points. The Catalans lived a similar story on their visit to the western neighbors, Benfica, at the EstÃdio de Luz, where they win 2-0 but finished with a bittersweet taste, after Carles Puyol dislocated his left elbow -which means that the Azulgranas will have to play for another couple of months without their captain.

The Red Devils had their second match of the Group Phase against the Romanian team CFR Cluj-Napoca, at the Stadionul Dr. Constantin Radulescu, in Cluj-Napoca. Early in the game (14′) a goal from the Greek, Pantelis Kapetanos, gave the hosts an advantage; however, United’s wingman Robin van Persie, even things up 15 minutes later. Then at 49′, the Dutch gave his side the lead and the 2-1 victory with an unusual goal, which resulted from a free-kick charged by Wayne Rooney, which sent the ball straight to van Persie’s way, who hit it with his shoulder into the bottom of the goal.

On Wednesday 3rd, Real Madrid had its first fixture against Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena, on which the Spanish club triumph with a 4-1 final score. The Portuguese star, Cristiano Ronaldo, opened the scoreboard 3 minutes from half-time and after that was relentless, achieving the first hat-trick of this stage. Ronaldo scored at 42′, 79′ and 81′, plus, in between his partner Karim Benzema scored one (at 48′) and the Amsterdammer, Niklas Moisander, put a mark on the hosts’ side.

During its visit to Anderlecht’s home, the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, Malaga repeated the results from its first game of the Group Stage, on which it smashed Zenit St. Peterburg with a 3-0. Those two perfect scores keep Los Boquerones, along with Porto, as the only two clubs that haven’t take a goal from its rivals so far.

On the other hand, Arsenal is doing better in the Champions than in the Barclays Premier League, where it has been bit inconsistent. The Gunners received on Wednesday the Greek champions, Olympiacos FC for their first leg encounter and after a slow beginning the English started to take control. At 42′ Gervinho placed the opening score, but with the Gunners still celebrating the advantage, a header from Kostas Mitroglou even things up right before half-time break. At the return, the forward Lukas Podolski gave his side the lead once again at 56′ and in the last moment his substitute, Aaron Ramsey -who entered in the 80th minute- grabbed a pass from Olivier Giroud and settle the score in 3-1.

In contrast, Porto and BATE Borisov, lead the Groups A and F respectively, since both teams had a perfect start defeating their first two opponents -that in fact were quite demanding. This has come as a surprise for many, after their performance from last season.

Evidently until now the teams from Spain and England have prevailed in this phase and now both nations have three teams leading a group and a fourth team on third position. After just the second round of matches is quite early to predict with certainty which teams would go through to the Knockout phase, but is important to keep an eye on these that have started roughly.

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Sexiest, Most Beautiful Model

I think I’m going blind, although they say that’s caused by too much…so, maybe I’m not!

I’ve been through my copy of FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the world 2007 (always a firm favourite) but something is horribly wrong!

From that first picture of Jessica Alba looking like a less attractive version of Ursula Andrews to Hayden Panettiere at No 6 whoever she is. What about Emily Scott at No 9 whose only claim to fame was showing off her implants on Celebrity Love Island…not that I’m complaining of course!

It was when I saw a full page spread of the girlfriend of Tottenham Hotspur’s Theo Wolcott in at number 96 that I realised that the world had gone mad!

Could it be some underhand Blairesque type ‘babe’ corruption scandal that’s going on? Is Max Clifford paying FHM to put in D list celebrities? Or maybe they used a premium rate £1.50 a minute phone line to select the winners. Something is not quite right!

So why is my magazine already falling apart at the seams and where are the missing beauties?

Jamelia, Tina O’Brien and that Sammy girl who went out with Charlie, Roxanne Pallett from Emmerdale (classic TV), Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Nigella Lawson (isn’t she lovely), Kirsty Gallagher, the girlfriend of Roman Abramovitch (say no more!), Cat Deeley, Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz…uh oh!…I’m feeling faint!

There are loads more obvious beauties missing – for instance, where am I? Ok, so I’m a guy but I’m still damn gorgeous…and no, I’ve not had implants, whatever my Doctor says, totally ‘au naturel’ – apart from a touch of Lipo! Can someone help me as my minds going fuzzy with all these beautiful women running through it?

My question is: Have FHM completely skimped on Jessica Alba’s bikini budget? I think she would have looked much sexier in this…but then, so would I!

At least the FHM voters haven’t totally lost the plot, the day that happens will be the day that Kelly Brooks and Keeley don’t even make it in the Top 10.

Have your say! Do you agree with FHM? Is Jessica Alba the sexiest woman in the world? Vote here! (look for Mio Destino Poll at bottom left corner of webpage)

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UEFA Champions League Final Preview

As all the major domestic leagues have wrapped up, the Champions League final in Paris is the last major soccer event before this year’s World Cup. The Stade de France is a fitting location for both participating clubs, Arsenal and Barcelona. Barca’s enigmatic leader Ronaldinho started his European career with Paris Saint-Germain five years ago. For an Arsenal squad with a French coach and several players with roots in that country, Paris is a suitable setting for this final.

The current odds on which team will lift the trophy (including extra time and penalties) are as follows:

Barcelona -188

Arsenal +175

Barcelona are clear favourites and nobody is surprised to see them here. They are arguably the strongest team in Europe, and with names like Ronaldinho, Eto-o, Deco, Larsson, Messi, Giuly and Puyol that is hard to dispute. Barca are a supreme threat offensively, netting 22 goals in their 12 Champions League games this season. They exude skill and have no trouble displaying their bucket loads of talent game after game.

Having clinched the Primera Liga title comfortably, lifting the Champions League trophy would be a satisfying end to Barcelona’s season. They are unbeaten in their last 12 games in this competition and come into this match with a full and healthy squad. Led by Ronaldinho, FIFA’s World Footballer of the Year, Barca will be disappointed with anything less than victory.

This was to be a rebuilding year for Arsenal. Instead of splashing out on new players, they opted to save money ahead of their move into the new Emirates Stadium next year. That was clearly evidenced by a disappointing year in the Premiership, and eventual fourth-place finish.

But that certainly wasn’t the case in the Champions League. Arsenal took command and breezed through the group stage. But their performance in the knockout rounds was even more impressive as they didn’t concede a single goal – that against the likes of Villarreal, Juventus and Real Madrid no less. Indeed, Arsenal let in only two goals in their 12 Champions League games this season.

For the Gunners, it was something of a reversal of form. In the past few years, while Arsenal were lighting up the Premiership, they struggled in the Champions League. Now coach Arsene Wenger has come up with a winning formula in Europe that is based on discipline and organization.

A London club has never before reached the final of this tournament. But Barcelona have never won the Champions League either – a serious disappointment for a club of their stature. Whatever happens, this is set to be a dream final no matter where your allegiance lies.

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