Visit Liverpool and Watch Eight New Anfield Stars

The new season has seen eight new faces at Liverpool FC – nine if you include manager Roy Hodgson. For anyone thinking of visiting Anfield to watch the Reds, here’s a run down Liverpool’s new signings for the 2010/11 season…

PAUL KONCHESKY The former Fulham left-back arrived on Merseyside for a deal in the region of £4 million and made his debut against Birmingham City on 12 September 2010. The 29-year-old career began at Charlton, where he made 149 appearances and scored 5 goals. Since then, he’s enjoyed spells at West Ham and Fulham, where he played under new Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson.

RAUL MEIRELES Arriving from Porto, the central midfielder is known for his wide range of passing and long-range shooting. In 137 appearances for the Portuguese club, notching 15 goals. Also capable of playing the holding midfield role, Meireles has 40 caps for Portugal with an impressive seven international goals to his name.

BRAD JONES Australian international, Jones, joined from Championship club Middlesborough to provide challenge and provide support for Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. During his time at Boro, he played 57 times and gained further experience on loan at five clubs. The 28 year-old is yet to make his debut for Liverpool, but did star in Jamie Carragher’s testimonial.

CHRISTIAN POULSEN The 30-year-old defensive midfielder was already familiar to Hodgson, having played under the former Fulham chief while the pair were at FC Copenhagen. Before joining Copenhagen, the Danish international played for Nordvest FC, but has since gone on to enjoy successful spells at Shalke 04, Sevilla and most recently Juventus. He has 78 caps for his country, scoring six times.

JOE COLE With 56 England caps, Cole joined the club on a free transfer in the summer having decided to leave Chelsea at the end of his contract. He played 183 times for the current Premier League champions, winning the title and FA Cup three times each during his seven year stay. He began his career at West Ham United, where his dazzling skills from an attacking midfield role brought him to the attention of England for the first time.

MILAN JOVANOVIC Serbian star, Jovanovic, arrived in July from Belgian side Standard Liege, where he made 116 appearances. During that time the striker netted 52 times, although his time at Liverpool so far has seen him play from wide on the left of midfield. He has a one in three goalscoring record for his country, with 10 goals in 32 caps. He also scored the winning goal in Serbia’s 1-0 victory over Germany at this year’s FIFA World Cup.

DANNY WILSON Just 18 years old, but already a Scotland U21 star, this centre-back starlet joined from SPL giants Rangers, where he made 14 first team appearances. He has already been awarded the FWA Young Player of the Year and 2010 Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year.

JONJO SHELVEY With England U16, U17 and U21 caps to his name, Shelvey was regarded as one of the hottest young talents outside of the top flight when Liverpool parted with £1.7 million for his services in April. Although yet to done the famous red shirt of Liverpool, the talented midfielder made 42 first-team starts for Charlton and bagged 7 goals.

If you’re ready to watch these new stars, as well as the likes of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, why not make the trip to Liverpool by train? With excellent transport links, you could make your way into Liverpool Lime Street or Liverpool Central before heading to the ground.

Ronaldinho Biography

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira is a famous Brazilian football player who is better known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho. His name Ronaldinho was used to distinguish him from a fellow Brazilian football celebrity whose name is also Ronaldo. Gaúcho was used when the existing Ronaldo was also known as Ronaldinho.

He was born on March 21, 1980 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. He is the youngest among the three siblings. Miguelina, his mother, was a sales woman who soon decided to take up nursing. João, his father was a worker in the shipyard and a football player for Cruzeiro. He died due to a heart attack when Ronaldinho was at the age of 8. Ronaldinho’s brother Roberto was also a professional football player for Grêmio. But his career ended too soon due to his injuries. And now he manages Ronaldinho. His sister, Deisi, is his press manager.

During Ronaldinho’s childhood days, his interest in football was already evident. He started playing futsal and beach football which later lead into his passion for a more established football game. His character as a football player developed in his early years.

His career as a skilled football player started when he joined the youth team in Porto Alegre club Grêmio. His extraordinary ball control and capability to score was rapidly displayed which lead him to fame. Many clubs from all over the world attempted to get him to be part of their teams. Eventually Ronaldinho signed a 5-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain which he joined at the start of the new season.

During his years with PSG, there were still much larger offers from different clubs, but he opted to stay with the team. But after some time he decided to leave the team after their many unsuccessful attempts to qualify for any European competitions. This caused a bidding war among the many clubs. Finally, the bidding ended up with FC Barcelona as the winning club for Ronaldinho’s services. They acquired him for £18 million. He was a very high paid player in Barcelona. He has had his terrible times in his career but his many achievements was far more overflowing than that. He had also joined the Brazilan National team.

Ronaldinho is one of the most successful football players in the world. He had so many achievements in his arena which includes the FIFA World Player of the Year wherein he was awarded in 2 consecutive years (2004-2005), the European Footballer of the Year award and the FIFPro World Player of the Year award which was also awarded to him in 2 successive years (2005-2006).

UEFA Champions League Last 16 Draw

The draw for this season’s UEFA Champions League last 16 has taken place and it certainly produced some mouthwatering encounters to look forward to. These games will take place on February 24th & 25th with the return legs two weeks later on March 10th & 11th. Here is the full draw as it was drawn in Nyon, Switzerland:

Chelsea v Juventus

Villarreal v Panathinaikos

Sporting Lisbon v Bayern Munich

Atletico Madrid v FC Porto

Lyon v Barcelona

Real Madrid v Liverpool

Arsenal v Roma

Inter Milan v Manchester United

The current champions Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson face their old friend, the former Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho and his Inter Milan side who were knocked out by Liverpool last year at the same stage. Mourinho had made it clear he wanted to draw one of the English «big four» clubs and he certainly got his wish, with the first leg to be played at the San Siro. The game at Old Trafford will no doubt revive memories of Mourinho’s famous celebration, as he ran down the touchline back in March 2004 when his Porto side scored a last minute equaliser that sent United crashing out of the Champions League. Of course Mourinho and Porto went on the lift the trophy that season beating Monaco in the final.

Sir Alex Ferguson is also looking forward to the tie as well. Ferguson believes it will be very interesting to come up against Mourinho as he has a character with a good personality. Contrary to what used to go on between the two when Mourinho managed Chelsea, Ferguson also said that he has always got on well with the now Inter Milan manager. It didn’t take long for Mourinho to also start the psychological word games by talking up Man Utd. He stated that he wanted to be drawn against the best and that he got the European champions. Man Utd could also be crowned World Club Champions in Japan this weekend too. Meanwhile another of the English teams, Liverpool, were drawn against the current Spanish champions Real Madrid and their new manager, ex Tottenham boss, Juande Ramos. The former Tottenham manager has only just taken over at the Bernabeu and will no doubt be looking forward to his return to England with the 9 times winners Real Madrid. Liverpool have the perceived advantage of the second leg at Anfield due to finishing their group on top. The tie is a repeat of the 1981 Paris final, which the English side won 1-0 thanks to a goal by defender Alan Kennedy. That was the last time these two giants of European football have met in a competitive game.

The draw also provided Italian coach Claudio Ranieri the chance of an emotional return to London and Stamford Bridge, against his former club Chelsea, last year’s beaten finalists. Ranieri is now the manager get Italian giants Juventus. Ranieri was a popular figure at Stamford Bridge before being replaced by non-other than Jose Mourinho in 2004. This despite Ranieri guiding them to the Champions League semi-final, where they lost to Monaco, who as mentioned above were then beaten by Mourinho and Porto. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal will have the first leg at home as they take on AS Roma. The Arsenal manager believes the Gunners, just like every other team now left in the competition, has a good chance of lifting the trophy in Rome come May. Despite both those difficult ties for Arsenal and Chelsea, they will have breathed a huge sigh of relief as the draw was made as they could have been paired with the current favourites Barcelona. They will have been extremely happy to have avoided the Catalans however, as mentioned above both Arsenal and Chelsea face difficult ties against AS Roma and Juventus respectively.

The «unlucky» team to draw Barcelona were the French champions Lyon and looking ahead to the game, their sporting director Bernard Lacombe admitted that they were very worried. Lyon couldn’t have been handed a more difficult game.

The Spanish team Villareal, which finished second in the group stages behind Manchester Utd, were handed, what on paper at least, looks one of the easier ties. They will face the Greek side Panathinaikos which pipped Inter Milan to top stop in their Group. So, Panathinaikos will equally be relived they didn’t finish second, as Utd would have been awaiting them. Former champions, and I suspect a dark horse for this season’s cempetition, Bayern Munich, will play the Portuguese team Sporting Lisbon and in the final tie of the round another Portuguese team Porto will go head to head with another Spanish team, Athletico Madrid.

There truly are some great games to look forward to in early 2009. No doubt there will be plenty of drama and a few shocks, the UEFA Champions League never disappoints once it has entered the sudden death knock-out stages.

Jose Maurinho As the Coach of Real Madrid

Jose Maurinho is one of the most respected coaches in Europe. This is not only because he knows his job very well, but because he is disciplined and would never take nonsense from anybody. He knows what he wants and demands it, not minding what people would think of him, as long as what he needs would assist him get the needed result.

Jose Maurinho is a pace setter; he is a god father, a disciplinarian and a charismatic coach, whose results speak on his behalf. He may not have been a football player, but as a coach he is fulfilled. He has succeeded where others have failed: he has won several domestic titles and two champions league titles (with FC Porto and Internazionale Milan).

One strong point he has is that he knows how to use what he has to achieve the result he wants. He knows where there are deficiencies and what he needs to cure the deficiency. When he came to Chelsea FC for example, the club was seriously in need of the premiership title, having failed to win it in the past 50years. Maurinho came in, brought in the likes Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Andrea Shevchenko, etc. and won the league back to back, breaking the 50years old jinx. He also won the FA cup, Carling cup and the community shield during his period of stay in Chelsea.

Nobody gave him the chance to win the champions league at Inter-Milan. People had thought that either Barcelona, Chelsea, Man-United, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Olympic Lyon, Liver pool or Bayern Munich would win the league; but coach Maurinho proved them all wrong, defeating Chelsea and Barcelona convincingly along the way. He finally snatched the UEFA champion’s league title beating Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final.

Now that he has signed to coach Real Madrid for the next 4 seasons, I see him winning the champions league which Marcello Lippi failed to win with the assemblage of world class players in his arsenal. With players like Christiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, Raul Gonzalez, Higuain, Gutti, etc. Jose Maurinho would win several titles (domestic and continental) for the club, if only the club management would give him a free hand to make his selection and to determine the kinds of players to add to the team. Being a very respected coach who takes no nonsense from players, all players would surely give him his due respect and play in the role that they are assigned to play. As the new coach of Real Madrid, Jose Maurinho is set to make history again as he prepares to give them the champions league title which has eluded them for about a decade now.

Cristiano Ronaldo Vs Lionel Messi

Arguably two of the best footballers of the current decade, both are, at glance, very similar players. They’re both attackers, great with a ball, and both play for a Spanish club. However there can only be one winner, so here’s the comparison: Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lionel Messi

Lionel is only 24 years old and currently plays for fc Barcelona. Born in Rosario, Messi started playing football at the age of 5, under his father’s wings, at a local club. He then rolled into the Barca youth team where he worked his way up from C-B teams to the main squad in rapid pace. His debut in the highest class of football began at the age of 16, during a friendly against FC Porto.

Now in 2011 it’s time to analyse his style of play and it becomes crystal clear that he’s a master with the ball. Thanks to his short length and fast legs, any opponent will have a hard time keeping up with him. However unlike most magicians, he’s also a terrific team player.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano is 26 years old and is a Real Madrid player. Ronaldo started his career at Sporting (2002) and in 2003 he guided his team to a win against the big Manchester United. The players of Man U knew that they would rather play with him than against him, so they contracted Ronaldo for the start of the 2003 season. After countless of successes, he became the most expensive player ever when he transferred to Real Madrid in June of 2009, the price: 94 million euro.

Ronaldo is a very fast and strong player. He took sprint lessons from the Olympics champion and is clearly a player «from the streets», pulling more tricks with a ball than any party clown could ever aim for. This quality is further emphasised by a great shooting technique that makes him an excellent asset during set pieces.

Versus

Now it’s time to compare the two players and pinpoint a winner, in my respectful opinion. First it’s clear that both players are terrific assets to any team, and both share a lot of qualities. For one they can both outplay several opponents and make a difference when the opposition is tight.

However a winner has to be chosen and in my opinion that winner is Cristiano Ronaldo. At this point Messi might have the edge on the field, but Ronaldo has great free kicks and is clearly stronger physically. The trade off being that Messi is the better team player. I remember Ronaldo when he played for Manchester United and back then he was, without a doubt, the best player in the world. His way of attacking suited the wing-play of Manchester United perfectly, and while less obvious in Madrid’s style of play, his past years are to be considered. Also in Ronaldo’s favour is his great charisma off the pitch. Messi is a pure footballer and doesn’t have that same level of personality away from the field, something past greats (Cruijff, Maradona) did have.

And that’s it for this comparison. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi share a lot of qualities; especially the ball technique of both is ground breaking. And while Messi currently has the edge, in my opinion Ronaldo is the more complete footballer in the long haul, not partly thanks to his great charisma both on and off the pitch. However they’re both very young so in the coming years this slight favour can definitely swing both ways.

Ronaldo vs Messi

No Premier League Side in the Semi-Final of the Champions League! Is it a Sign of EPL’s Fall?

Firm followers of UEFA competitions and most especially the Champions League, can attest to the reality that there have been EPL sides in the semi-final of the champions league for the previous six seasons i.e. 2003-2009.

In the past six seasons, EPL sides regular in the champions league (Liverpool FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC) have all some way featured in the semi-final of the champions league in the past six seasons, which made English and even foreigners marvel at their absence this season, in the semi-final of Europe’s elite club competition.

In 2005, Liverpool (the all red) and Chelsea (the true blues) locked horns in an entertaining semi-final with both sides led by managers who have managed his team for barely two seasons, Liverpool went on to win the encounter, after a closely contested semi-final match. Liverpool eventually emerged triumphant in that year’s Champions league, after defeating Ac-Milan in an epic final which saw one of the greatest comebacks in football history, 3-0 to 3-3 and then victory.

The proceeding year, Arsenal featured in both the Semi-final and final of the Champions league, to mark a turn-around in their footballing history, but were not so lucky to win the trophy after only qualifying for their first final match in the champions league. They battled with Barcelona in that year’s final, i.e. 2006 final, but got beaten by 2 goals to 1, with Jens Lehmann sent off in that match.

In 2007, Liverpool and Chelsea once again were drawn to do battle in the semi-final of the 2006/2007 season. With the first leg drawn to be played at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea had the opportunity of progressing, and they took full advantage of the home factor by defeating Liverpool by a lone goal after a highly contested fixture. At Anfield, Liverpool played with caution while also surging forward in search for the goal that will put them on level terms with Chelsea, luckily for Liverpool the goal came. A low cross from Steven «general» Gerard found an unmarked Daniel Agger, who sliced the ball through the bodies of Chelsea players and bang into the net early in the first half. Liverpool preserved the one goal lead even after 90 minutes until the extra time was over, then it was time for the ultimate decider; penalty kicks, Pepe Reina was the hero of the day as he saved the deciding spot kick to send Liverpool into the final for the second time in three seasons and a replay of 2005 final with AC-Milan, that dispatched Manchester United in the other semi-final clash by 5 goals to 3 on aggregate.

The final was a highly anticipated one, as two of Europe’s power houses in club football go head-to-head to decide the winner of the 2007 Champions League, eventually two Pippo Inzaghi goals, which made him the highest goal scorer in the Champions league, won Ac Milan the trophy for the seventh time in their footballing history.

The following year saw the best from English teams in the Champions League. All four English representatives made it to the quarter final, with three (Liverpool, after ousting Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United) out of the four progressing onto the semi-final, Liverpool were eventually dumped by fellow English team Chelsea. The progression of Chelsea into the final in 2008 was the first time they were playing in the Champions League’s final; they battled with Manchester United for the coveted trophy, matched United strength for strength, skill for skill, technique for technique, but were just unlucky to miss out in the spot kicks, as United went on to win their third and Sir Alex Ferguson’s second UEFA Champions League trophy, which also aided Cristiano Ronaldo in winning the world player of the year award.

The year 2009, saw a different football style displayed by a team. 2009 Champions League was won by Barcelona of Spain, after showing the footballing world how the game should be played; neat defending, accurate passing, and clinical finishing: characterized the play of Barcelona en-route to winning the trophy for the third time in their history, after triumphs in 1992 and 2006.

2010 came with a lot of promise for the English sides, after bright starts from all the sides in their respective groups; Liverpool won its first game against Debrecen at Anfield, by a lone goal scored by Dirk Kuyt, which made him the club’s third highest goal scorer in Europe with 12 goal to his name. Chelsea also won its first game against FC Porto by a lone goal scored Nicolas Anelka, in a dull encounter due to the water soaked pitch.

Manchester United didn’t do badly in its first game; same was the case for Arsenal, all the English representatives representing well to the delight of English stalwarts. Things started becoming shaky as the competition progressed further to its crucial stage. Liverpool were ousted very early in the competition, as they were ousted in the group phase, even before the last group game. The victory of Fiorentina over Olympique Lyonnais in the game before the last, meant Liverpool were forced to the Europa league were they have solace recently, making an impressive run to the semi-final, having not scored lower than three goals on aggregate in the previous rounds, i.e. round of 32, round of 16 and quarter final, which has earned them a clash with Athletico Madrid away in Spain.

Chelsea were next up for elimination, after a partly successful run in the group onto the round of 16. Chelsea had great scares during a few of their group phase games, Athletico Madrid away in Spain was one those, where they had to settle for a 2 all draw after going through Didier Drogba, only to see a Sergio Diego Aguero brace give Athletico the lead, but Drogba proved to be very clinical in finishing when he slotted his second past Athletico’s goal. The most surprising of Chelsea’s group phase result came on the last day of the group. Apoel Nicosia making only its debut in the Champions League held all conquering Chelsea, with a full first team squad, to a 2 all draw at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal had the most impressive group phase performance where they picked up 16 of the 18 available points in a group which consisted of Olympiakos, Standard Liege, and Az Alkmaar, which are low pedigree teams with frequent Champions League due to inability to make it through the preliminary.

Manchester United, I would say, had an indifferent group campaign. Had a great start, but flattered during the crucial mid games, needed the last game to confirm qualification but put threw any doubts into the thrash after a Michael Owen hat-trick cancelled out Edin Dzeko’s opening goal, for VFL Wolfsburg at Old Trafford.

With the progression of three tops teams from England into the round of 16, hopes and expectation were extremely high. The English teams, however, didn’t get the perfect draws, Chelsea were billed to face Inter-Milan, tutored by Jose Mourinho, Manchester United drawn to do battle with 7 times European champions, Ac-Milan, and Arsenal getting a re-match of the 2009 group game against Porto Fc, 2004 winners.

The first legs saw the English teams face real test of strength, skill and technique.

Manchester United were tested for all the mentioned above against Ac-Milan, first in Giuseppe Meazza, San Siro and then in Old Trafford, but then they emerged victorious on both legs, winning 7-2 on aggregate, with Wayne Rooney scoring four of the seven goals, i.e. 2 goals in each leg.

Arsenal had a similar situation, against Fc Porto, the Portuguese representatives giving them a good run for their money, most especially in Portugal, where the first leg was hosted, which Fc Porto won by 2 goals to 1, in a match which Porto’s second goal by Falcao, was a bit controversial, appearing to be an offside goal.

At Emirates stadium, Arsenal showed no mercy, firing 2 goals past Helton in goal for Porto in quick succession, and at half time, it was Arsenal 2 Porto 1. Porto started brightly in the second half of the game, attacking Arsenal from all angles of the pitch. As the game grew, Arsenal became for more confident, and began playing like the Arsenal we are use to watching in league games. Samri Nasri threw the Emirates into ecstasy, when he dribbled past three Porto defenders and slotted past helpless Helton, who tried to rush out to prevent the goal, but all to no avail. Super sub, Emmanuel Eboue, came on minutes later and sealed the victory, with a clean finish, after he outran the Porto defenders and was set up by Andre Arshavin, with only the keeper to beat, he rounded him neatly before netting Arsenal’s four to cap a fine performance from truly smoking gunners. Nicklas Bendtner, who had earlier netted 2 superb strikes, added a third to mark his first hat trick in his Arsenal career.

It wasn’t a bed of roses for Chelsea neither, as they had to suffer defeats in the hands of Inter-Milan on both legs, which put paid to their Champions League campaign. At the magnificent Giuseppe Meazza, Inter tested Chelsea for wits, work rate and technique, as both teams played out their lives to progress in the competition. Chelsea partly outplayed, but all the «ball possession» could not fetch them the win which they set out to achieve. The ball possession favoured Chelsea in the first leg match, but these were not translated into goals neither were they translated in the goal attempt, shot-on-goal, and so on. Of all the teams which started European campaign in September, Liverpool can be deduced to be the most disappointing of all, due to the fact that it was knocked out in the group phase.

Presently, there are only two English teams in European competition, Liverpool FC and Fulham FC and they both have interesting fixtures in the semi-final, having to face Athletico Madrid and Hamburg, respectively.

There is the possibility of an all English Europa league final, a feat which has not been achieved for over 6 seasons.

The absence of premier league teams In the semi-final of the champions league, in my own estimation, does not connote the fall of the premier league, rather the sole reason is the reality that we have come to face, which is the fact that teams form other countries have sat down and reviewed the methods of English teams, which they have applied, and it has worked magically and very effectively too.

English teams were neither totally outclassed, outpowered nor outplayed, but rather the element of luck was against them, and also the English teams have had a good run in the past, so let other teams enjoy same, so people won’t say the Champions league is an English competition. The English teams will rise up to take what’s rightfully theirs, which is the prestige it has earned over the years, a prestige which in my estimation, is in jeopardy considering the inability of making it to the semi-final of Europe’s elite club competition.

Upon this I settle, the absence of English teams in the semi-final of the champions league is by no means equal to the fall of the premier league, and besides which other league is so unpredictable as the premier league? A league where any team can beat any team, home or away; name the league.