Prandelli defends Spain style

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has dismissed criticism of Spain’s style of play ahead of the teams’ Euro 2012 final on Sunday.

Reigning world and European champions Spain have come under-fire from some quarters for their perceived lack of flare during the tournament in Ukraine and Poland.

But Italy coach Prandelli rejected the arguments, claiming tight contests involving Spain are due to the respect they are afforded by other teams.

“Boring Spain? In fact it is that the other teams are afraid and play defensively against them, but they manage to win in the end anyway, so that hasn’t really worked either,” he said.

“They are not boring at all.”

“Our main task tactically will be to recover the ball as soon as possible.

“Where we recover the ball will depend on how Spain play, but our main focus will be closing the spaces to prevent them from playing their game, especially in the middle of the pitch.”

Spain have lined-up several times in the tournament without a dedicated striker, Barcelona man Cesc Fabregas often filling in as a deep-lying centre-forward.

Prandelli thinks his opposite number will continue to use the same system, which he believes allows Spain to attack through other avenues.

“I expect the same Spain, the one that suffocates their rivals, it’s a team that doesn’t concede goals,” he said.

“Even if they play without strikers, they attack you from very deep positions, they are very modern and I like the way they play.

“We will try to adapt to the way they play, whether if they use a number nine or not.”

As for his own tactics, Prandelli said is not considering using a five-man defence, but may switch systems during the match should he deem it necessary.

“These last few matches we have been able to maintain a balance, so I’m not thinking on changing to a five (man) backline, it might happen during the match but we won’t play that way from the beginning.”

Italy face Spain in the Euro 2012 final at the Olympic Stadium, Kiev, on Sunday.

Sat 30 June, 2012
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Blanc tipped to resign

Laurent Blanc is set to step down as France coach following his team’s quarter-final exit from Euro 2012, according to media reports.

France reached the last eight of the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, losing 2-0 to defending champions Spain.

A disappointing 2-1 defeat to eliminated Sweden in the final match of Group D consigned France to a runner-up berth and daunting tie against Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain.

The campaign was also affected by alleged dressing-room disagreements, and incidents such as Samir Nasri’s foul-mouthed outburst at the French media.

According to L’Equipe, Blanc met with the French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel Le Graet on Thursday for talks regarding his future.

And it now seems the former international defender will not renew his contract as head coach, with Marseille boss Didier Deschamps installed as the early favourite to replace him.

Blanc, 46, has been linked with the vacant Tottenham Hotspur job, however Andre Villa-Boas is expected to be announced as the new Spurs boss on Monday.

Sat 30 June, 2012
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Luuk de Jong in Newcastle link

EPSN are reporting this afternoon that FC Twente striker Luuk de Jong would cost ‘absurd money’ following interest from Newcastle United.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is keen to add another striker to his ranks and after the successful purchase of Papiss Cisse in January, the club are backing him all the way.

It had even been suggested that Newcastle and Twente were in negotiations over the transfer of de Jong, but this has been dismissed by Twente manager Steve McClaren.

The former England manager said: “Nobody has to leave. Only an absurd bid would see Luuk leave.”

This could be an attempt to get more money from Newcastle or it could be that Twente are desperate not to sell one of their star men.

The 21-year-old scored 32 goals last season, so you can certainly see why Newcastle – and Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach are interested.

One of the most highly rated youngsters in Holland, demand for his signature is set to be significant and if Twente are to sell, they want a fair price.

In the end it could come down to the demands of the player. Does he want a move to England, Germany or to remain in Holland with Twente?

The next few weeks are certainly crucial for the development of this story. Newcastle may have to be patient in pursuit of the striker.

Sat 30 June, 2012
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Club legend: Madrid should sign Silva

Real Madrid legend Guti has advised his former club to make a move for Manchester City midfielder David Silva this summer, reports the Daily Mail.

Silva – who is currently preparing for the Euro 2012 final with Spain – had a fantastic season for City last year, helping the club secure the Premier League title.

It is uncertain where Silva would fit into the current Madrid team, but Guti believes he is the type of player Jose Mourinho’s men need.

The former player also said that Madrid should avoid going for Luka Modric, another player they have been linked with this summer.

He said: “He (Modric) hasn’t even been the key man for Tottenham. I would go for David Silva in this position. I think he’s the ideal player for Real Madrid.”

Manchester City will be very reluctant to sell though. He was a key part in their success last season and they will want him to continue for many years to come.

The only way a move could materialize is if the player himself wanted a move back to Spain. With Champions League football at City though, he will surely want to continue as part of this project.

As ever with Manchester City, their players are sure to be linked with moves away. Then, at the same time, they are going to be linked with many players too.

There isn’t normally too much time passing before another Manchester City transfer rumour emerges.

 

Sat 30 June, 2012
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Loew considers Germany future

Joachim Loew says he is uncertain of his future in charge of Germany following their Euro 2012 semi-final defeat at the hands of Italy.

Germany were widely viewed as favourites for the title but were denied a place in Sunday’s final in Kiev following a 2-1 loss to Cesare Prandelli’s men.

Earlier in June, Loew gave a strong indication that he could step down as Germany coach after the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

He has come under fire from some quarters following the team’s failure to win the European Championships.

And the 52-year-old has refused to confirm whether he will remain in charge for the World Cup qualifiers.

“Generally, I have a contract,” Loew told Bild.

“Leaving? Such things have not crossed our mind. Our journey has been very, very good,” he said, referring to his coaching staff.

“I must get a little distance to see if there are any new attractions out there.”

Loew took over from Juergen Klinsmann in 2006, guiding Germany to a runner-up finish at Euro 2008 and third-place at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa two years later.

Sat 30 June, 2012
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Are former-Rangers players right to reject contract transfers?

The club formerly-known as Glasgow Rangers seems to be in pieces.

The SPL clubs have refused to let the new organisation Newco Rangers into the Scottish top flight and now players are refusing to have their contracts transferred to the newly established club.

Unclear

The future of the once great club is very unclear at the moment.

It looks like Newco Rangers may have to start in the Scottish third division and work their way up back into the SPL. Its a situation that must be breaking Rangers fans hearts.

They have along with Celtic been giants of the Scottish game and now the club could find itself in the depths of the Scottish football pyramid system.

Happy

Some people in Scotland seem to be happy that Rangers are in this sad state of repair. They shouldn’t be Rangers and Celtic are the two teams that attract television and sponsorship deals for the SPL. Without Rangers the league will be little more than a procession for Celtic next season.

I have surprisingly read Celtic fans saying that Rangers going into liquidation is a bad thing for them, despite the bitter rivalry between the clubs. Celtic fans know that without that rivalry the interest in their club and the league in general will decrease.

Players

Newco Rangers have offered Rangers players the opportunity to transfer their contracts over to the new organisation. Unfortunately for Rangers most players are choosing to head elsewhere. The likes of Stuart Whittaker and Kyle Lafferty have already agreed moves to Norwich and Sion respectively.

One of Rangers main players in recent years Steven Naismith looks set for a move to Premier League Everton according to reports, after he refused to transfer his contract to the newly-formed organisation.

Loyalty

Some Rangers fans have criticised the players for lack of loyalty. I think they are slightly harsh on the players as Rangers no longer exists in its original form. Had Rangers survived in its original form I’m sure all their best players would have stayed with the club.

However, I can understand the players not wanting to transfer their contracts as the future of Newco Rangers is completely uncertain. The owner Charles Green doesn’t even seem to know what league Rangers will be in next season.

Green has no right to criticised the players for not transferring their contracts. He is talking about players breaching their contracts by leaving as free agents. In fact the players had contracts with Glasgow Rangers, not Newco Rangers so they are doing no such thing.

I can understand that Green wants to get money for these players as Newco Rangers will basically be starting afresh but he can’t accuse the players of breaching their contracts when the company they had contracts with no longer exists.

Fans

The fans of Rangers are a very loyal bunch and it’s these hearty souls that I feel sorry for. These are the people that have been hit hardest by the liquation of their club. The clubs previous hierarchies create a mess that nobody could sort out.

Its meant that one of Britain’s biggest sporting institutions now no longer exists. Some fans will be bitter about the players leaving but I think most will understand that they can’t sign up to something that doesn’t guarantee a bright future.

Rebuilding

I hope for Rangers fans sake that Newco Rangers are a success and they eventually work their way back to the top of the Scottish game. Scottish football needs Rangers and I’m sure there is a lot of Scottish football fans out there that are very sad about the demise of Rangers.

Derby

The SPL will be a lot poorer for the lack of Celtic-Rangers derbies next season. Without these games Celtic will have very little competition next season. However, the players can’t be blamed for the mess that Rangers got themselves in and they shouldn’t be criticised for wanting stable employment.

Are Rangers players right to reject transfer of their contracts?

Sat 30 June, 2012
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Redknapp wants Premier League job

Harry Redknapp says he has ‘faith’ he can still contribute as a manager and wants to work in the English Premier League.

The former Tottenham Hotspur man has revealed clubs from all over the world have approached him to be their head coach, but he will not rush the decision over taking a new job.

Having led Tottenham to fourth spot in the Premier League last season and never lower than fifth during his three years in charge, Redknapp remains certain he can succeed at the top of English football.

“I could manage anywhere,” Redknapp told Sky Sports.

“I have certainly not lost any faith in my ability.

“I have left Tottenham in an unbelievable position from when I went to the club to where they are now.

“It could not have gone better; it has been four fantastic years.”

In the two seasons prior to Redknapp’s arrival, Tottenham had finished 11th and eighth.

The north London club qualified for the Champions League for the first time during his second season in charge.

Tottenham sacked the 65-year-old on June 13, and with the job at White Hart Lane the only vacancy in the Premier League, it remains to be seen where Redknapp will find employment.

“That is the only place to manage for me,” he said.

“As I say, you never know what comes up.”

The former Portsmouth, Southampton and West Ham manager has been heavily linked with a lucrative job in the Middle East.

“I have had loads of offers from abroad,” he said.

“But it is not something I am going to dive in and take the first job that comes up.

“If I am going to take a job, it has got to be a good job – the right job.”

Sat 30 June, 2012
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CSL: Dalian Aerbin 1 Hangzhou 1

Peter Utaka scored his sixth goal in 10 games to earn Dalian Aerbin a 1-1 draw with Hangzhou in the Chinese Super League.

In front of their home crowd, Dalian trailed Hangzhou at half-time after Du Wei’s goal in the 38th minute on Saturday, before Utaka made his mark.

The Nigerian forward, who joined Dalian from Danish club OB Odense in January, ensured the home team grabbed a share of the points with his strike in the 52nd minute.

Saturday’s draw means Dalian’s unbeaten streak stretches to four games.

Dalian have moved up to 10th on the Chinese Super League table with 16 points but still trail Hangzhou who are in eighth, three points ahead.

Sat 30 June, 2012
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J.League wrap: Sawa shines for Kashiwa

Masakatsu Sawa scored a hat-trick as reigning J. League champions Kashiwa Reysol smashed Gamba Osaka 6-2.

Sawa got off to a brilliant start on Saturday, scoring twice in the first eight minutes and by the time the 29-year-old midfielder added his third in the 69th minute, Kashiwa had the match wrapped up.

After Sawa’s first two goals, Masata Kudo made it 3-0 for the visitors in the 21st minute.

But first-half goals to Yasuhito Endo and then Akihiro Sato just before the break meant Gamba went into half-time 3-2 behind.

Any chance of a comeback was extinguished in the 56th minute when Leandro Domingues scored Kashiwa’s fourth before Sawa’s hat-trick strike and an injury-time goal from Junya Tanaka wrapped up the four-goal win.

The top-two teams in the J. League, Vegalta Sendai and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, played out a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Vegalta hit the front through Wilson in the 11th minute before goals either side of half-time to Hisato Sato and Kazuyuki Morisaki gave Hiroshima a 2-1 lead.

However, Wilson came to the home side’s rescue with a 79th-minute equaliser.

That result means Vegalta remain top of the table with Hiroshima two points behind.

Jubilo Iwata triumphed at home 3-1 over Tokyo with the visitors only managing a consolation goal in the 89th minute.

Shuto Yamamoto scored in the seventh minute to give Jubilo the lead at the break before Tomohiko Miyazaki and Byung-Kuk Cho sealed the home side’s victory in the second half.

Shuto Kohno scored Tokyo’s late goal.

An injury-time equaliser from Yoichiro Kakitani gave Cerezo Osaka a 1-1 draw with Urawa Red Diamonds, while the match between Yokohama F. Marinos and Nagoya Grampus finished with the same score and Vissel Kobe won 1-0 away to Kawasaki Frontale.

In other results, Sagan Tosu defeated Consadole Sapporo 1-0, Albirex Niigata drew 1-1 with Kashima Antlers and Omiya Ardija overcame Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0.

Sat 30 June, 2012
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Alba, Balotelli ready to star

A third successive international crown awaits Spain on Sunday as a generation hope to make history.

The list of stars in the Spanish side rolls off the tongue – Fabregas, Alonso, Iniesta, Xavi – but it’s one of their unsung heroes who has helped the side most.

Hailed as a ‘revelation’ than no less than Johann Cruyff, it appears Euro 2012 will be making of Jordi Alba.

Stepping into the boots of Joan Capdevila, veteran of the 2008 and 2010 successes, was never going to be easy.

But since making his debut in October last year, Alba has proved himself a worthy successor.

None more so than in the quarter-final against France, providing the cross for Xabi Alonso’s opener before completing his defensive duties with a calm authority.

If that didn’t give him the confidence he needed heading into the final, Alba completed a move back to Barcelona on Friday.

Whilst they might be labelled as boring this year, conceding just one goal shows the defensive threat the Spaniards will pose Italy on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Golden Boot is within the grasp of Mario Balotelli – just one more goal could see him become the first Italian to lift the golden boot at a European Championship.

He came into the tournament on a high – having helped Manchester City to a first title in 44 years, setting up the last-gasp goal that secured the title.

But it took until the final group game for Balotelli to make his mark in Ukraine and Poland with a stunning final minute volley against the Republic of Ireland.

If playing in his first international tournament wasn’t hard enough, the charismatic striker has been flung into the limelight by newspapers in Italy.

Various headlines and cartoons, along with alleged racist abuse from Spain and Croatia fans, might have rocked the volatile forward.

But his double against Germany ensured the praise of a nation and a hope that ‘Super Mario’ will fire them to a second European crown.

Sat 30 June, 2012
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