Bet fans can claim the free bets from the best online betting sites in India and US sports betting offers here

English Premier League News

Italian Serie A News


French Ligue 1 News

Midfielders : The Unsung Heroes

Monday, May 22, 2017

        So the thing about football is that there are only so many that get the limelight for the games that a team wins, but the build up to the final touch that puts the ball in the back of the net is negated. Yes ! I am talking about the midfield . The midfield acts as the engine that constantly works to provide the inch perfect pass that creates the goal scoring opportunity or the perfectly timed tackle that help the team stay afloat. This is the job of the Unsung Heroes that work tirelessly to make the life of the team easy throughout the 90 minutes.

        Being the backbone of the team, not only does the midfield do the job that is dirty enough to win the nastiest of tackles but also create chances needed to win a game. However, the credit that the player gets is negligible. The world has seen some of the greatest of midfielders, however, these are my top four picks - Golo Kanté, Sergio Busquets, Yaya Toure and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the concluding season of 16/17. These players constitute the link up play that become vital to the goal that wins the match in the dying seconds. The final pass or a crucial tackle is just the tip of the iceberg. The work rate, intelligence, timing, shooting, dribbling, decision of passing, perfect weight on the ball, are the real traits of a footballer.

N'Golo Kanté

N'Golo Kanté in action

       The kind of distance that Kanté covers in 90 min makes you question if he really is human.  Putting in the right tackles at the right time, helping the team time and again, and saving face even if he's up against forces like Agüero or Sánchez. Kanté in his 1st season with Leicester City that went on to lift the Premier league had an astonishing defensive play with 175 tackles. The 5' 5" star had the most interceptions in the league with 157, more than any other player. He dominated the midfield during his 1st season and earned his name in the PFA Team of the Year. Kanté left Leicester for Chelsea in the 2016/17 campaign and became an influential part of the  team almost immediately after setting foot on Stamford Bridge. Kanté won his 2nd consecutive Premier league Title with Chelsea. Not only did he ensure his place in the PFA Team of the Year but was also named the PFA Player of the Year in his debut season for Chelsea. He was also named as the Premier League Player of the Season.

Sergio Busquets
Sergio Busquets in action
        Another player who skips the limelight for the relentless amount of work he does on the pitch is Sergio Busquets. Despite being 6'3" he is very swift in the midfield and the man to call out for when Barcelona is cut short defensively. His intelligence on the ball is exquisite and he makes the distribution of the very famous Tiki-Taka look effortless. His flawless tackles and work rate make him the core pillar of Barcelona since Xavi left. His contribution to the team hasearned him 24 trophies with Barcelona over the course of 9 years. With the National team, he's won the FIFA World Cup 2010 and UEFA European Championship in 2012.

Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure in action

        Yaya Toure is an underrated midfielder even after playing for the European giants Barcelona and being a part of the sextuple winning season. Currently playing for Manchester City, the 6'2" central midfielder is a dominating figure on the pitch and one of the most fierce opponents to play against. His presence on the pitch is felt with or without the ball. His aggression to win the ball helps him play a strategic game and sudden bursts of speed make him a terrifying opponent. The last thing defenders expect to see is the freight train Yaya with full speed heading their way.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in action

        Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another player with blistering pace and exceptional skill on and off the ball. Blessed with that pace he possesses the skill to glide past defenders with surreal control on the ball. The runs that Ox provides off the ball makes life easier in the midfield and his work rate going up and down the flanks aids the wing backs. Combination of such speed and strength makes him volatile on the pitch. He cuts through defenders like a knife through butter and provides decisive crosses that always keep the goalkeepers on their toes.

- Abhay Thekkany

The Professor Vs The Special One

Saturday, May 20, 2017

         Football is always powerful when rivals face one another. They make the game intense and full of excitement. One such exciting rivalry is between two managers Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho. Wenger did not defeat his nemesis in the last 12 Premier league encounters. It looked like a 13th consecutive winless streak for Wenger against the Portuguese, as Mourinho was unbeaten in his previous 25 league games with Man United.

        The rivalry was initiated by Wenger when he took a dig at Chelsea's ‘lack of number of home grown players’ in their lineup. Given their history as London rivals the comment was just adding fuel to the fire. Chelsea's style of play was another reason for Wenger to raise an impediment over Mourinho's tactics. These incidents started a verbal war between the managers that still persists over a decade. Mourinho accused Wenger of being a voyeur and watching other people than himself. Wenger in his own mindset responded to his criticism by calling Mourinho disrespectful. Mourinho and Chelsea parted ways in 2007. He spent 2008 - 2010 in Inter Milan where he defeated Barcelona 3 - 2 on aggregate in the Champions league semi-final. His 1 - 0 loss at the Camp Nou was him quoting, "The most beautiful defeat of my life." He went on to win the Champions league for the 2nd time in his career by defeating Bayern Munich in the final.

        Mourinho took on a new challenge with the Galacticos in 2010. The verbal feud resumed when Wenger criticized Real Madrid for deliberately getting Ramos and Alonso sent off in a Champions league game against Galatasaray. Mourinho set it up so that they have a comfortable 2nd leg and avoid suspension in important games later in the tournament. Mourinho fired shots of his own and questioned about Wenger's success in champions league. On returning to the Premier league with Chelsea for the 2nd time in the 2013/14 season, Mourinho was back to face his old rival. Wenger again had his squeeze with Mourinho's decision to sell Juan Mata to Manchester United. Arsenal were yet to play United and selling Mata to their rivals just made the mountain more steeper to climb, especially when Chelsea played United a week earlier. Wenger thought it to be unfair that his (Mourinho's) team always has the best days to play and respecting other team's fairness it shouldn't be the case. The rivalry intensified when Mourinho quoted Wenger of his infamous comment, "He is a specialist in failure" . This comment enraged all the Arsenal fans including Wenger and he took the verbal war to another level. All the previous history between the two manifested into a scuffle in October 2014. An argument led to Wenger shoving Mourinho at the touchline on Stamford Bridge. Wenger later admitted that he should not have reacted in the way he did and felt provoked by Mourinho.

         Cold war aside, the stats rule in Mourinho's favor regarding who is better of the two when it comes to delivering results. Below chart clearly blows Wenger out of the water with just 2 wins in 17 appearances against Mourinho.

        And after the recent game against Manchester United where Arsenal dominated majority of the possession, Arsenal came on top after 90 minutes with a 2 - 0 victory. This was Wenger's 1st win against Mourinho in the Premier league. After 12 matches over a period of 13 years Wenger finally got the better out of Mourinho by being the last man standing.

       Then again, both are under firing managers at the moment with Mourinho's 1st year at United and  Wenger's worst season at Arsenal. Could the capitulation of Man United against Arsenal mark the shift of tides? With both the managers looking at a busy summer, next season could be decisive in terms of title challenges, performances and rivalries and will make the season worth looking forward to.

- Abhay Thekkany

Monaco mark their territory as new breed of Ligue 1 giants

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Paris St Germain had long been considered to have a stranglehold on the French league, with their dominance coming to boiling point in Laurent Blanc's final campaign at the helm. Blanc spearheaded a charge to the the French quadruple in a season which defied expectation at the Parc des Princes.

As a consequence, questions of Ligue 1's entertainment value reared their ugly head once more as PSG sauntered towards to the title, finishing 31 points clear of second and not leaving the top of the table after week two of the campaign.

Their 30 league wins last season came close to breaking the record for the least amount of fixtures for a side to win a domestic title, Unai Emery probably licked his lips at the chance of a smooth transition when taking over from Blanc in the driving seat last summer.

His move from Sevilla may have been far less turbulent had Leonardo Jardim's Monaco not broken the streak of Ligue 1 titles PSG were en-route to amassing. Still on their meteoric rise under Claudio Ranieri in the second division as PSG began their four year streak of titles in 2012, Jardim (linked with Arsenal) has helped Monaco produce some of the best football in Europe this season to re-ignite interest in the French top flight.

Judged on the European stage by their demolition of and subsequent collapse against Barcelona, eyebrows were raised when PSG let their French supremacy slip. However, a point haul of 86 with one game remaining would comfortably claim the title in every season from the turn of the century, meaning Monaco must take credit from going one better.

Unbeaten in Ligue 1 in 2017 - only dropping points away in Paris and to Bastia - it's not surprising that they had odds as short as 1/6 to win their final home game of the season against St Etienne. Those odds could have been of further benefit when considering Oddschecker offer various free bet offers to those looking to get maximum value from short-price punts like this one. Monaco have inspired domestically and become short-priced favourites for most fixtures thanks to the young talents of Fabinho, Bernardo Silva and in particular Ligue 1's young player of the season Kylian Mbappe, who have forced themselves into contention for European recognition.
Breaking the 100-goal mark with two games remaining is a mark of the winning formula put into place by Jardim. Radamel Falcao has looked like a man reborn following his two-year English exile from the club, with Thomas Lemar and Silva feeding off his experience to produce 17 league goals between them en route to the title.

A lazy observation would be to point out the effects of PSG losing a world-class star in Ibrahimovic. Edison Cavani has more than stepped up to the plate with 35 goals and the capital-club got some form of revenge when mauling the new champions Monaco 5-0 in the Coupe de France semi-final. The fact is, PSG have just been usurped by an incredible south coast side.

Emery's Men remain unbeaten at home all season, yet it was a 3-1 defeat in Monaco that ultimately cost them the title, as they spiralled into an uncomfortable spell on the road, losing four from eight away games up until the New Year.

Interestingly, this game followed Monaco demonstrating their intent and giving a clue to the season ahead by overcoming Villerreal in a tricky looking Champions League qualifier.

How Have Atletico Madrid Become Real's Not-so Noisy Neighbour?

Monday, May 01, 2017

Ever since Atletico Madrid won La Liga back in the 2013-14 season, they have established themselves as a real European powerhouse. Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate the scene in Spain and when Real's noisy neighbours came along and trumped them both in 2014, it was clear there was a new kid on the block. 
Atletico manager Diego Simeone was the mastermind behind his side's domestic success, and it could have been more had Real not beaten them 4-1 in a thrilling Champions League Final the same year. Simeone has managed to keep his side in contention for the title ever since, with Atletico finishing three points off the top last year when Barcelona lifted the trophy. 
However, the Vicente Calderon outfit haven't been up to scratch this season, and Real Madrid are currently 4/9 favourites in La Liga betting to lift the title; they also have a game in hand on second-placed Barcelona. It's shaping up to be another exciting installation of La Liga that will come right down to the wire. Atletico sit narrowly third behind Spain's big two, but they haven't secured a top-three finish just yet as Sevilla are breathing down their necks. 
With their top three finish still in question, Atletico fans are racking their brains at what's gone wrong this season. The side haven't played particularly bad and, of course, a top-three, even fourth-placed, finish in this league is still a great achievement. But after such an impressive season in the 13/14 campaign, nobody can blame the fans for wanting and expecting more. 
Atletico have failed to compete with the big boys this season: they haven't beaten Real Madrid or Barcelona in the league so far and in a title fight you need to beat your competitors. Real beat them 3-0 in the first meeting of the season and they drew 1-1 at the Bernabeu. Meanwhile, they drew 1-1 with Barcelona at the Nou Camp, with the Catalan side then managing a 2-1 victory in Atletico's back yard. 

Simeone admitted the title race was over even back in February before his side's draw with Barcelona, saying: "We see these three points, not so much against a direct rival, but in a battle for third spot. "A few fans may point the finger at Simeone for not believing in a title race so early on and blame him as the reason for the side not competing at the top.  
"Antoine Griezmann" by Xavier NALTCHAYAN (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  Another factor to consider is Antonie Griezmann. It feels like the whole world has been chasing the Atletico man's signature this season and it may have had a very negative effect on not only his own performance but the performance of his team-mates. When one player is singled out as the best in a team and is being chased by numerous competitors, it can't be something that goes unnoticed and it must have had an effect on the whole team.
Griezmann has scored 16 goals in 32 league appearances this season but the rest of his teammates simply haven't stepped up to his ability. Kevin Gameiro has 10 in the league; Fernando Torres and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco both have five each as well. 
Perhaps they have focused a little too much on the Champions League. It's all well and good trying to perform in Europe but if you're not performing in the league then there will be no future opportunities for European football. However, Atletico can't blame anything on their commitments in other competitions; they play in the Champions League every year and have managed to compete in La Liga before.
- Tom Wilson

Football Extras

La Liga News

UEFA Champions League News

Bundesliga News