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Spain’s attack- a blunt knife

Posted on | June 8, 2018 | No Comments

Cesc Fabregas. Dani Parejo. Juan Mata. Ander Herrera. Pedro Rodriguez. Javi Martinez. Marcos Alonso. Hector Bellerin. Sergi Roberto. All names that any manager would love to have in their lineup, but names not even good enough to make Spain’s 23. Despite all their midfield and defense riches, Spain’s attack tells a different story. The 2010 winners are currently the 3rd favourites in World cup 2018 odds to win it for only the second time in their history.

Even in the Fernando Torres-David Villa peak days of yore, attack was perhaps never Spain’s strongest suit. It showed – even in their victorious 2010 World Cup campaign, Spain only scored more than 1 goal in just 2 games – and won all their knockout matches by the same score, 1-0. But it was different back then – their USP – a midfield full of all-time legends in Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, knew that they could take their time on the ball, patiently break teams down through their patented style of play, tiki-taka, and when the chance came, a world-class striker would be there to bury it.

But as Torres and Villa declined, Spain moved on. Necessity is the mother of innovation, as the saying goes. Vincent del Bosque trialled a striker-less 4-6-0 formation at Euro 2012, with a front 3 of David Silva, Fabregas and Iniesta – all 3 central midfielders by trade. Fabregas would be the central of the 3, and the La Roja’s furthest forward player. The term “false 9” was popularized. Despite the flak del Bosque copped, it worked. Spain did not create many chances in the final third, played “boring” football, focused on keeping the ball than creating chances – yet they emerged comfortable winners, blitzing Italy 4-0 in the final.

Another major tournament saw another major change – as the 2014 World Cup rolled by, Spain again saw a change of guard in attack. Brazilian-born Diego Costa, previously snubbed by his nation of birth, obtained Spanish citizenship in the build-up to the tournament. Costa had had a sensational season in 2013-14 – his 27 league goals in 35 appearances not only gave Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo a run for their money in the Pichichi rankings, but also led Atletico Madrid to a sensational league title victory – ending the Barcelona-Real Madrid duopoly, and as far as a heartbreaking extra time defeat in the Champions League final to cross-town rivals Real.

But it didn’t work out – champions Spain were dumped out in the group stage, after just 2 games. They were thumped 5-1 by an unfancied Netherlands before suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Chile. Spain only scored 4 goals in the tournament, 3 of them coming in a dead rubber against group minnows Australia. Ironically, Costa ended the tournament goalless, while the old guard, Villa and Torres both notched a goal each in the final game. For a side that tailored their style of play around short passes, a true, traditional, big and strong #9 in Costa did not quite work out well, as he was continuously booed by the Brazilian crowd, who thought that he had “betrayed” his birthplace. The Brazilian crowd joyously celebrated as Costa missed a sitter against Chile –the match that saw Spain eliminated from the tournament.

Yet another big tournament, yet another striker. After a torrid 15-16 season with Chelsea, Costa was dropped from the Euro 2016 squad. Alvaro Morata, who had a fruitful Champions League for Juventus, but yet used sparingly in the league, and 35-year-old AritzAduriz were preferred. Morata scored 3 goals in the group stages, but failed to have any impact in the knockout stage as Spain were eliminated after a 2-0 defeat to Italy in the Round of 16.

Two years later, their seemingly eternal striker dilemma seems to have come full circle. Spain have gone back to Costa, with Morata dropped. The previous incumbent, Morata, had a torrid domestic season with Chelsea – the exact position Costa found himself in, 2 years ago, after replacing him at Stamford Bridge this season. Chelsea’s club record signing at £60m,Morata couldn’t have asked for the season he had at a worse time – scoring only 11 league goals, missing a whopping 17 big chances throughout the season, and going a period of 3 months goalless at a stretch.

Costa, himself, hasn’t had much of a fruitful season either. Frozen out by Chelsea despite a successful 16-17 season where he powered the London club to a league title, he was sold back to Atletico Madrid. Atletico, facing a transfer ban, could not register him until January – so Costa went 6 months without top level football. Naturally rusty on return, he could only muster 3 league goals in 15 appearances. Spain’s joint-top scorer in the qualifying (with Morata), Julian Lopetegui put his faith in him again, but it remains to be seen if he can deliver on the biggest stage of all with very little football and poor form behind him.

The other forwards called up, Iago Aspas, Rodrigo and Lucas Vazquez have all had respectable seasons domestically, but they are not forwards of the pedigree that will make defenders shudder in their boots – no one is quite yet established in the top tier, like Villa and Torres were back in 2010. Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Isco, Marco Asensio, David Silva, Thiago Alcantara, Koke, Saul Niguez – it reads like a who’s who of the top midfielders of today, but for Spain to have a productive World Cup, this service needs to be converted by the men upfront. It remains to be seen how Lopetegui utilizes this crop of midfielders, with the famine of a harvest up top.

Article written by Shubham Singh

World Cup Football: The Facts You Didn’t (And Need to) Know!

Posted on | May 28, 2018 | No Comments

With the World Cup squads having been announced in recent days by all participating nations, the excitement levels are going through the roof. The previous World Cup in Brazil saw many surprises, none more so than the host nation being embarrassed 7-1 by the Germans in the semi-final. The Germans went on to win the trophy against Argentina in extra time, in what turned out to be the most expensive football match ever in terms of ticket prices, with some going for as much as $20,000 a seat. We have taken a look some of the other fun World Cup facts:

world cup russia

Stadium Distances
Unlike other sporting tournaments like the Olympics, the World Cup is evenly spread throughout a nation. Four years ago in Brazil, there were twelve different stadiums with distances as much as 2,000 miles between them. The journey from Porto Alegre to Fortaleza would have taken over 5 hours one way. Similarly, in Russia, the distance between Yekaterinburg in the east and Kaliningrad in the west is roughly the same distance as London to Moscow!

3.2 Billion Viewers
At the last World Cup in Brazil, a truly incredibly statistic was revealed, which was that almost half of the world’s entire population tuned in to watch the event. When you consider that Brazil is widely regarded as the greatest nation to ever play the beautiful game, then it’s easy to see why. Add to that the golden generation of stars such as Messi and Ronaldo at the peak of their powers, and an England team that somehow always manages to break our hearts!

Baby Booms
It has often been said that the countries that win a World Cup often experience a baby boom in the coming months. This has been noted for numerous countries who have had success in tournaments such as the French in 1998 and the Spanish in 2010. It’s even happened for countries that didn’t even win a tournament, but exceeded expectations. Nine months after Iceland’s stunning victory against England in Euro 2016, hospitals all over the Scandinavian country were suddenly more inhabited than ever before!

3 Million Beers
At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, a grand total of 750,000 litres of beer were sold at the stadiums, equating to roughly 3 million beers in total. While you may be thinking that’s one hell of a collective hangover in the morning, 390,600 hot dogs were also sold, which must have taken the edge off somewhat!

European Dominance
Out of all the World Cup finals ever played, European teams have only failed to reach the final twice. European nations have won 58.8% of the finals matches that they’ve played in, and it is the Italians and the Germans who are the dominant teams on the continent with 4 titles each to their name and only 1 behind Brazil.

2018 FIFA World Cup Facts

Posted on | May 23, 2018 | No Comments

The World Cup is now less than a month away, and with squad announcements filtering in, the excitement surrounding the event just went up a notch.

Perhaps the one fact which makes this tournament unique is that it is being played across four time zones. With eleven time zones in Russia, this World Cup could have been absolute hell for some. Fortunately, the action will be largely restricted to European Russia, but there is still a challenge for tournament coordinators.

world cup russia 2018

With nearly 2,000 miles separating the furthest west (Kaliningrad) and the furthest east (Yekaterinburg) stadiums, this tournament promises to show exactly how much logistical muscle FIFA now has.

In addition to the issue of time zones, there are four more talking points ahead of Russia.

Enter Iceland and Panama

There are two nations making a World Cup debut: Iceland and Panama. Yet, debuting teams seldom have as much expectation surrounding them as the Iceland squad does. Years of investment into Icelandic football, materialised by the presence of indoor training academies, finally paid off in 2016 with a run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals. The Iceland team remained strong thereafter, and progressed as winners from their qualification group for the World Cup.

By contrast, Panama carries nothing in the way of expectation, and the squad contains no players with notable playing experience in the UEFA Champions League. Regardless, the history of the World Cup is awash with debutants that stunned. In the two World Cups of the 2000s, Senegal and Ghana both negotiated the group stages on their respective debuts. Going further back, another Central American nation did the same in 1990, with Costa Rica progressing after beating a strong Sweden side 2-1.

Exit the veterans

For England, Gary Cahill, Ashley Young and Jamie Vardy will be making their final appearance at a World Cup final. All are now in their thirties, but boast the type of experience that can galvanise younger players like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

There are also some well-known players within other teams, who have endeared themselves to Englanders through club-level heroics, and all of them will know that this summer’s tournament represents their World Cup swansong. Belgian thirty-something duo Vincent Kompany (Manchester City) and Thomas Vermaelen (Tottenham) have been exceptional in defence for their respective clubs, and will certainly give Jamie Vardy a tough time, in the game that the World Cup spreads suggest will determine the winners of Group G.

Of course, there is one superstar who will be more eager than anybody else to win the World Cup on what must be his last attempt. Alongside a Lionel Messi who could still be game for 2022, Cristiano Ronaldo has been one of the most electrifying athletes of his generation. Without his influence, Portugal could never have won Euro 2016, and at the age of 33, it is now or never for ‘#CR7’ to take the big one.

A poisoned chalice?

The last two World Cups have seen the reigning holders bow out at the group stage. 2014 saw Spain lose 5-1 to the Netherlands in a re-run of the 2010 final. It was a seismic result that propelled the Dutch all the way to the semi finals, but the tables have since turned again, with the Netherlands failing to qualify and Spain rampaging to top spot in the qualifiers.

In 2010, Italy fared even worse in their own cup defence, finishing last in a group containing an unfancied New Zealand side. Indeed, only Brazil’s negotiation of the group stage in 2006 prevented this apparent ‘curse’ from being given an even deeper context. France’s bottom-placed finish in the 2002 group stages is also an infamous example of how far a defending champion can fall.

Up for grabs?

There is better news, however, for ‘seeded’ teams – or teams drawn from pot 1. Since 1990, every cup-winning nation has been drawn from pot 1. Argentina is the last nation to defy the odds in that respect, doing so via Diego Maradona’s heroics in 1986. Additionally, no team qualifying from the CONCACAF (North American), CAF (African), AFC (Asian) or OFC (Oceanic) regions has ever won the cup.

Speaking of trophies, the ‘golden boot’ carries a curse of its own, in that no player has won it alongside a World Cup winner’s medal since 1982. Paolo Rossi remains the last man to pull off a personal ‘double’, but no man has ever managed to win it twice in a row. For that reason, James Rodriguez will be a particular person of interest this summer, having taken it in 2014 with six goals.

Behind the Reels

Posted on | May 17, 2018 | No Comments

There is a large amount of work that goes into creating the latest and best online slots. From the humble work of Charles Fay, slots have come way. But they have maintained the central concept of Fay’s invention.

The Liberty Bell was the first real money slot machine, click here to see more slots games. This device had three drums rolling to produce the outcome of the bet. As you can expect the machine was a lot simpler than today’s slots.

How the Latest Slots Work

There are still some casinos like goldenrivieracasino, where you can play slots that still use drums. But it will be difficult finding these classic slots that are still in good working order. Everyone has migrated to digital games. Even slot title from the earlier years can be found on the digital games.

Instead of the drums, a sophisticated system was created to generate the sequence of symbols after every spin. Slots whether online or at land-based casinos now use Random Number Generators (RNG).

An RNG is a mathematical algorithm which randomly determines when each reel will stop. This system makes it impossible for a machine to be hot or cold as each successive spin is not affected by the previous spin.

However, the machines are designed to payout a certain percentage of bets made. This percentage becomes perfect in the very long term. For example, after 1 million spins a slot should have paid back 95% of the money wagered on the game.

This is where chance takes over. The machine can give a lot of really small wins and small loses over a period of time. These are the winning streaks and losing streaks that gamblers are so fond of talking about. And then there is that time when the game just goes mad and gives massive jackpot wins. Or it can just starts not giving wins.

These are the events that naturally occur in “the life” of a slot machine. Which is why the games are so entertaining so that you keep playing even when the chance is not favoring you.

A beginner’s guide to betting on horse-racing

Posted on | May 16, 2018 | No Comments

Whether you’re a complete novice or an occasional punter, getting to know the world of horse-racing betting can seem a daunting task at first. However, once you get to grips with a few basic tips it all starts to make a lot more sense and becomes more enjoyable. We take a you through some beginner horse racing tips to get you started below:

If you’re looking for the latest horse-racing tips then you can also head over to The Winners Enclsoure. This site offers free daily tips and previews on all practically race meetings, and they also keep their followers in the loop with all of the latest racing news to ensure that you have up-to-date information ahead of picking your bet.

Betting only what you can afford, and betting responsibly is of course paramount, and should never be compromised. With that being said, so long as you follow those rules then there’s no reason why betting on horse-racing won’t be a fun experience for you.

Research form

It perhaps goes without saying, but like any bet you place on a sports market, you should always do your research beforehand – as thoroughly as possible. There is a wide variety of ways and means to go about checking horse-racing form and stats, both online and more traditional methods. If you’re looking for the most up-to-date information, then of course online is the better route for you. Most bookmaker websites also now offer some runner and rider information, at least for the major race meetings.

Checking stats such as previous finishes for both horse and jockeys alike, and how they tend to do on certain grounds and courses is also recommended. You can then match this up with bookmaker odds and asses which bets represent the best value.

Check out Tipster sites

There are many tipsters that you can find online, whether you want to source tips or just see how your own predictions tally with those of tipsters. Sites like The Winners Enclosure offer a wide variety of recommended bets that punters can use to do exactly this.

Find the best Bookmaker for you

It’s well worth shopping around to find a bookmaker that offers the information that is most relevant to what it is that you’re looking to bet on, and that offers you information that is useful to you when picking your bets.

Most bookmakers also offer incentives for signing up such as free bets or offers for certain race meetings and events.


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