The Ferrari 348 Challenge/Serie Speciale Sports Cars

The Ferrari 348 Challenge – A close look at this classic sports car’s performance, technical data, features, comparing rivals, history, used prices

from Classic to Modern

The Ferrari 348 Challenge

THE CAR

The 348 Challenge sports car from Ferrari was a single marque race Series, first set up in 1993, and aimed at amateur drivers. It was initially established in Europe and, within a year, had spread to the US.

Originally, the Series centred on converted 348 Serie Speciale cars, but this was later extended to any 348 from 1989 onwards that reached 348 SS specification.

In 1994, Ferrari introduced a limited edition of just 45 cars, consisting of 32×348 TB’s and 13×348 TS’s, targeted at the US market, that were designated the 348 Factory Challenge.

The Serie Speciale sports cars included sills that were painted the same colour as the rest of the car, and this feature was carried over to the Challenge Series.

These Challenge cars had road-going trim, and each received an individually numbered plate that was positioned on the right hand door frame.

They were fitted with upgraded engine control units, a large heat shield, and a less restrictive exhaust system, although there was a race version that utiised straight through pipes. also included were:

  • Points to clip on the harness
  • Mounting points for the anti-roll cage
  • aluminium pedals
  • Brake ducts beneath the car
  • Tow hooks at both ends of the car
  • Stiffer springs
  • Front and rear bumpers made of fibre glass
  • Leather wrapped steering wheel containing the «348» insignia

The cost of the optional Challenge kit from Ferrari was $14,000, and they indicated that, using this kit, it would take around 60 man hours to convert the original car to race trim.

The 3.4 litre, double overhead cam, V8 engine used in the Challenge Series would develop an increased 320 bhp.

The resulting racer would use slick tyres, and have an improved braking system, and upgraded aerodynamics.

The 1995 season was the last in which the 348 Challenge car would be entered in race meetings since, by that time, it had been superseded by the Ferrari 355 Challenge model.

The Ferrari 348 Serie Speciale

THE CAR

The Serie Speciale sports car from Ferrari referred to a limited edition of 100 modified versions of the 348 TB and TS that was built between 1992 and 1993, and targeted at the US market only.

Since the rear wheels used wider rims, then the rear track was increased by two inches. It was also fitted with:

  • Free flow exhaust system
  • Higher final drive
  • Front splitter
  • New front and rear grille
  • Alternative rear light assembly
  • Bumpers and rocker covers marching the colour of the car
  • Sports seats and door panels both covered in leather

Each sports car was individually numbered with a special plate positioned on the passenger’s door post.

Finally, in 1994, a further 15 units were built as a result of favourable demand.

THE ENGINE

The 348 Serie Speciale was powered by the same 3.4 litre, double overhead cam, V8 engine that was fitted to the original variants.

However, this unit was slightly modified, and developed 312 bhp at 7200 rpm, whilst still producing the same top speed, but with a marginal reduction in the 0-60 mph time of 5.3 secs.

COMPETITION

A cross section of competition for the 348 Challenge and Serie Speciale cars included: Corvette ZR1, Honda NSX, and Marcos LM500. Ferrari performance:

This marks the end of my Review of the Ferrari 348 Challenge and Serie Special sports cars

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Soccer Betting – How To Make A Profit

Home In On The Best Picks And Tips From Hundreds Each Week:

Many football (soccer to our American friends) picks and tips sites provide only a few picks/tips a week, some only one, with many charging huge amounts for the privilege. In this article I will show you how to get the very best from hundreds of free and low cost picks and tips every week by answering these four questions.

What if you were able to pick the absolute best picks from hundreds of weekly picks/tips greatly increasing your chances of success?

What if those picks/tips are chosen based on the past performance of similar picks/tips and those picks/tips are all created using a combination of several tried and tested statistical methods?

What if you could know whether draw predictions, home predictions or away predictions are more successful for the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A, the German Bundesliga, or many other leagues across Europe?

What if you could do it all for FREE or very low cost?

Well now you can. If you’re interested then read on.

Some Tips Are Better Than Others:

Using well established statistical methods along with automated software it’s possible to generate hundreds of soccer tips every week for many leagues, theoretically you could cover all of the major leagues in the world. So what, why would you want to do that? Surely many of the tips will be grossly inaccurate but on the other hand many will be correct so how can you determine which will be successful and which not? It would be much better to just concentrate on one or two matches and predict their outcome by intensive and careful focused analysis.

On the face of it the above responses that I have seen over the years have some merit and deserve careful consideration, there is a good argument for focussed analysis of a single match with the aim of trying to predict its outcome. However, consider this, when a scientist runs a statistical analysis how many data items do they select as a representative sample? One, two… or more? When carrying out statistical analysis the more data you have to work on the better the outcome. For example,if you wanted to calculate the average height of a class of school children you could just take the first two or three as a sample. But if they are all six feet tall they are going to be highly unrepresentative so obviously you would get all their heights and calculate the average from those, the result is a much more accurate answer. It’s a simplistic example but hopefully you see my point. Obviously you can apply that argument to a single match by collecting past results for each side and carrying out statistical analysis techniques using that data, but why restrict your analysis to that one match?

We know that if we make hundreds of automated tips, based on sound tried and tested statistical methods, that some will be successful and others won’t. So how do we target in on the best tips, the ones most likely to be correct, and how do we do it week after week? Well, the answer is to keep a record of how each and every tip performs, some tips are better than others and we want to know which ones. At this stage, if your thinking how can I possibly calculate all of that information for every game, in every league I want to cover, and do it every week, then don’t worry I’ll show you how it’s all done for you at the end of the article.

Results Are Not Always The Same:

Simply keeping a record of how each of the hundreds of tips we make actually perform against the eventual result is not enough, what we need now is a way of analysing that data and grouping it logically to get the best from it. Results are not always the same, in other words a tip that shows one possible outcome for match A and the same possible outcome for match B will not necessarily produce the same result (i.e. a correct prediction or a wrong prediction). Why is this? Well there are hundreds of reasons why and you will never be able to account for them all, if you could you would no doubt be a millionaire. When trying to predict the outcome of a match you may look at such qualitative things as the current injury list of each team, the team sheet, morale of the players, etc. We can also look at Quantitative factors using our statistical methods to predict the outcome of the match, so we may look at such things as past performance, position in the league, or more tried and tested statistical methods such as the Rateform method. We can use all of this information to predict the outcome of match A and the outcome of match B and still not have the same result, part of the reason for this is, as explained before, that we can not account for all the factors in a match, it’s impossible. But there’s something else, something we can account for which we have not yet thought about.

When we look at one match in isolation we only look at the factors concerning each of the two teams in the match, but why not expand this to look at how the other teams they have played are also performing? ‘Why would we want to do that?’ I hear some of you say. Because results are not always the same. Let’s say our prediction for match A and match B is a home win (forgetting about the predicted score for the moment). What else can we take into account to improve the prediction of a home win? We can look at the performance of all the home win tips made for the same competition that the match is being played in and then make a judgement based on that new information. This is great as it gives us an extra factoring level to take into account that we did not have before.

Looking across all the home win predictions in a single league will give us a percentage success rate for home wins for that particular league, but we can improve on this even further. We can do this by doing the exact same exercise across many different leagues and obtaining a percentage success rate for each league. This means we can now look for the league which produces the best overall home win prediction success rate and look for home win predictions for the coming fixtures. By default we know that that league is more likely to produce a successful outcome for a home prediction than any other. Of course we can employ this technique for away win and draw predictions as well.

How Tight Is The League?:

Why does this difference between the leagues occur? As with trying to predict the outcome of a single match there are many factors that make up this phenomenon, but there are just a few major factors that influence why one league should produce more home wins through a season than another. The most obvious of these could be described as the ‘tightness’ of the league. What do I mean by ‘tightness’? In any league there is often a gap in the skills and abilities of those teams consistently at the top of the league and those at the bottom, this is often expressed as a ‘difference in class’. This difference in class varies markedly between different leagues with some leagues being much more competitive than others due to a closer level of skills throughout the league, ‘a tight league’. In the case of a tight league the instances of drawn games will be more noticeable than with a ‘not so tight league’ and home wins will most likely be of a lower frequency.

So, let’s say we are interested in predicting a home win, armed with our new information about the ‘tightness’ of leagues we could make predictions for matches throughout a season for as many leagues as we can manage, and watch how those predictions perform in each league. You will find that the success of the predictions will closely match the ‘tightness’ of a particular league, so where a particular league produces more home wins then we will have more success with our home predictions. Don’t be misled, this does not mean that just because there are more home wins we are bound to be more accurate, what I am taking about is a success rate in percentage terms of the number of home predictions made which has nothing directly to do with how many actual home wins there are. For example, let’s say we make one hundred home predictions in league A and one hundred in league B, and let’s say that seventy five percent are correct in league A but only sixty percent in league B. We have made the same number of predictions in each league with differing results, and those difference are most likely due to the ‘tightness’ of each league. League B will be a ‘tight’ league with more teams having similar levels of ‘class’, whereas league A has a wider margin of class when it comes to the teams within it. Therefore we should pick out the best performing league concerning home wins and make our home win selections from that league.

We Have To Be Consistent:

Of course there is more to it than that. It’s no good just taking each tip and recording how it performed we have to apply the same rules to each and every tip made. You have to make sure that the parameters you set for each predictive method you use (e.g. Rateform, Score Prediction, etc.) remain constant. So choose your best settings for each method and stick to them for each and every prediction, for every league, and for the whole season. You must do this in order to retain consistency of predictions within leagues, between leagues, and over time. There is nothing stopping you using several different sets of parameters as long as you keep the data produced from each separate.

If you are wondering what the parameters are then take the Rateform method as an example. Using this method we produce an integer number that represents the possible outcome of a match (I’m not going to go into detail about the Rateform method here as that’s the subject of another of my articles). You can set break points that represent a home win and an away win, so if the resulting rateform output for a match is higher than the upper breakpoint then that match could be deemed a home win. Similarly, if the resulting rateform output for a match is lower than the lower breakpoint then that match could be deemed as an away win. Anything that falls in-between is deemed a draw.

Footyforecast.com (now 1X2Monster.com) has been delivering this kind of information, week in week out, on its website since 1999. It covers eighteen leagues across Europe including; English Premiership, Scottish Premiership, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga, Dutch Eredivisie, Spain, France, to name but a few. A total of seven different statistical methods are used to determine the outcome of each game played in each league, and a comprehensive record of how each method in each game performed is kept. Apart from how each tip performed within its respective league Footyforecast also provides the league tables of how each league has performed in successfully predicting outcomes of games. The league tables of prediction performance are produced for home win predictions, draw predictions, away win predictions, and for overall predictions and are invaluable tools to the soccer punter when deciding where to target their European soccer predictions.

So there you have it. Hopefully I have shown you how to target in on the best leagues in order to raise your chances of success when predicting 1X2 results, and, although I offer no guarantees, I’m fairly confident that this method will improve your profits.

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Initials Of World Series Stars Reveal Generation Gap Between Milennials And Baby Boomers

After Los Angeles third baseman Justin Turner hit a two run homer to put the Dodgers up for good in game one of the World Series, a commentator referred to him by his initials. Fans of celebrity Justin Timberlake responded, identifying their idol as the true J.T.

For baby Boomers like me, however, neither of those young stars can ever be the original J. T. That designation belongs to folk-rock singer James Taylor, who has gained immortality through hits such as «Fire and Rain» and «Your Smiling Face» as well as his cover of Carole King’s «You’ve Got a Friend.»

Likewise, Houston fans might think of Jose Altuve simply as J. A., whereas modern music fans might associate those initials with country star Jason Aldean. We Boomers, however, give those letters to John Anderson, the leader of the Lovin’ Spoonful responsible for hits like «What A Day For a Daydream» and «Summer In the City» as well as «Do You Believe In Magic.»

The alliterative name of Houston shortstop Carlos Correa could easily be shortened to two cees, which younger music fans might confuse with singer Camilia Cabello. We in the older generation, on the other hand, would most likely conjure up the image of the late Chris Cornell, the front man of the alt rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave.

Los Angeles devotees probably refer to their shortstop as C. S., the initials of Corey Seager. To those who listen to country music, those letters most likely suit Chris Stapleton much better. As for me and others born in the decades after World War II, we reserve that duo of consonants to guitarist Carlos Santana.

Rookie sensation Cody Bellinger, who plays first base for the National League team in the World Series, could be known merely as C. B. to folks in Los Angeles. For Music fans among millennials, though, that pair of letters most likely evokes the name of Chris Brown, an actor and singer who happens to be married to Rihanna.

Older guys and gals, upon hearing C. B., probably would cringe at their recollection of the citizens band radio they once had in their cars or bedrooms. Musically, we would turn those letters over to Chuck Berry, who earlier this year passed away. Berry was a legendary rocker who made the timeless hits, «Johnny B. Goode» and «Roll Over Beethoven.»

When it comes to the three letter initials that stand for Most Valuable Player, fans of the Astros probably have just one name in mind. Their version of J. A. is one of the leading candidates for that coveted award, but they will unfortunately have to wait until the announcement on November 16 to find out.

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Betting Tips and Kelly Criterion in Soccer Betting 2008 Vs 2009

To be a successful punter in soccer betting, you should intelligently guess two main things: the probability of a win and the size of the stake. Online betting tips and team news can help you to estimate the probability of a win, but choosing the stake size is a more complicated task that requires each punter to decide according to his individual betting strategy.

This article summarizes a research intended to optimize the use of Kelly strategy, the most profitable of all the existing betting strategies. The research is based on a comparison between statistics of betting profits of top European soccer leagues that played during 2008/09 and those playing in 2009/10 seasons.

Data and Methods

  • The research was conducted based on match results and average betting odds from 60+ bookmakers taken from the following European Soccer leagues: Austrian Bundesliga, English Premier, Dutch Eredivisie, French Ligue 1, German Bundesliga 1, Greek Ethniki Katigoria, Italian Serie A, Scottish Premier, Spanish Primera Division and Turkish Super Lig.
  • Each match outcome receives its own value defined by multiplication: odds x probability of a win. When this value is higher than one, it is considered as a «value bet».
  • The probability of home win/draw/away wins in this research is defined by the frequency of their appearance in a national tournament.
  • According to Kelly’s strategy, the wager for each outcome is calculated as follows: w * (p-(1-p)/(odds-1)) (w represents the wealth of the punter and p is the probability of a win). For example, if your wealth is 1000$, p is 50% and the odds are 2.5, then the preferable wager is equal to 1000$*(0.5 – 0.5/(2.5-1))=166$
  • The punter’s profit is calculated by assuming he places a wager according to the Kelly’s strategy for those outcomes whose value is the closest to the value bet defined a priory.
  • An optimal value bet is a bet resulting in a maximal profit for a punter.

Research Summary

According to the research, the optimal value bet for soccer betting is 1.37 (2009) compared to 1.39 (2008). The betting profit of a punter who uses Kelly’s strategy with these optimal value bets is equal to 10% in 2008 and 14% in 2009. The results show that when a punter uses Kelly’s strategy placing bets on the outcomes with an average value bet of 1.38, the betting profits will be maximal. High quality betting tips can increase the profits dramatically but the optimal value bets have to be recalculated to adapt them to the accuracy of your betting tips.

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How To Make Money From Sports Trading (Football Trading)

Hi,

My name is Edmund Ben and I am simply here to help you achieve that little added income for your bills, fees and welfare, this last quarter of 2010. Please take some minutes to sit back and read through this important mind blowing revelation as I roll on.

Do you know you can actually make 100-300$ weekly by just trying out your time while watching your favorite teams in the English premiership, Spanish la liga, Italian serie A, French ligue one etc? This is called football trading. Many People relinquish the chance of watching football matches whenever events like the champion’s league, world cup, Euro cup, African champion’s league etc are up for display. They dash into different show houses or viewing centers sit down for 90 minutes, arguing and shouting on top of their voices, some go to the extent of fighting while others just sit and hail their teams play without knowing you can actually make lots of money while you are sitting and watching them play. The truth is as much as we are glued to our TV sets watching football and shouting, some these clubs rarely know we exist although these days there are several fans assembly of different clubs, the question is how many are genuine? We sometimes at the end of every match go home happy and fulfill or sad and emotionally depressed.

Finally the saga and depression is over… You too can make streams of dollars TRADING ON FOOTBALL MATCHES. The truth is that even a baby can do this as it does not require any form of skills or certificate. HERE IS HOW IT WORKS…

Football trading is simply predicting an outcome of a football match irrespective of the teams involved. These outcomes may be a draw, win or lose. In some cases number of goals, corners, throw in etc. At the end of these matches your outcomes are converted into solid cash for you. Sounds simple right? Sure it is! People are willing to pay you for your opinions on football matches. These people are called BOOKMAKERS. They own platforms where different people all over the world meet to trade football. You register with them, fund your account with as little as $10and you are up and running making your money. This is almost like forex trading and fixed odds trading. The difference is while forex uses pips football trading uses odds, also football trading has a 70% to 30% chance of losing provide you take your time to analyze a match before staking.

Odds are the number of points given to a particular team to win a match, draw a match or lose a match. These odds are multiply by your staking to give you your net profit or returns. For example, Man U playing wigan, Man U can be given 2.5 odds to beat wigan, 3.50 odds to draw. Assuming you staked $10 for Man U to win and Man U eventually wins then your profit becomes the odds for winning multiply by your stake. i.e. 2.5* $10 = $25. This can also be done for a draw odds multiply by staking.

The good part of this is that, you not only bet on a straight win but can also bet on range of goals to be scored by both teams and range of corners and throws to be done in the match. Example, you can say this match is going to have 1-2 goals, 2-3 goals etc. This is the total number of goals to be scored by both teams. You can also place what is called a double chance betting and still make your money that is, one team to win or draw. Assuming Man U is playing Wigan, you can say Man U to win or draw. If Man U wins, you make your money, if Man U draws you still make your money, you only lose if Man U fails to win or draw that is if Man U loses. Of course the possibility of this happening is very small. This is where FOOTBALL TRADING becomes interesting. Football trading is as easy as ABC with the right tools and simple guidelines. People who are smart are making thousands from it monthly and are not telling you the truth about their source of income.THE TRUTH HAS BEEN REVEALED. You too can make money from trading football with my simple step by step guide on how to bet here in Nigeria and Abroad. There is a bookmaker here in Nigeria that you can fund in naira and make your money in dollars. A bookmaker abroad where you can get started without having a domiciliary account.

Follow my step by step guide and football trading success is guaranteed.

To get this manual or guide free of charge, follow the sign up link on the resource box, fill the form and then send me your email address for your free copy.

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Will Milito Follow Mourinho to Madrid?

At the same time as a outcome of Jose Mourinho gossip that he would move to Real Madrid next season, so therefore one of his players, Diego Milito perhaps as well pointed out that he will leave the San Siro next season.

Milito is a third person as well as a following player who reveals with the intention of he perhaps leave Inter in the season ahead of time. Initially, just Jose Mourinho stating with the intention of he would move to Real Madrid next season. Not long before, spin to Douglas Maicon who as well declared that he might go along the coach’s company to El Real. Now, go the mainstay Inter striker, Diego Milito, who confirmed with the intention of he too would go along his coach to Los Blancos.

«In football, you in no way know what will take place in the upcoming. Now I get an offer which is very valuable and we’ll find out what will take place soon,» Milito said

Curiously, the striker who became important victory in the final of the Champions League Inter Milan versus Bayern Munenchen it suddenly turned 180 degrees as he publicly welcomed Inter Milan in Italy on Sunday (23 / 5) morning local time. Ex-Real Zaragoza striker revealed with the intention of he will complete his contract left behind in the first three years Nerazzuri.

«My contract still left behind three seasons and I will stay at Inter,» Milito supposed on Sky Sport 24.

Some Italian media alleged with the purpose of what was alleged on Sky Sport Milito is a tall tale. Because, Jose Mourinho was not in attendance by the celebration event held to salutation the arrival of Inter skuat I Nerazzuri in Italy and supposed of Mou is negotiating to bring his favorite player was to Madrid if «The Special One» really encouraged.

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Lionel Messi the Successor of Diego Maradona

Lionel Messi was born in Rosario city on June 24, 1987. He started playing football at the age of five for Grandoli, a club coached by his father. Messi switched to Newell’s Old Boys in 1995. At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Every month Messi required treatment for the illness that cost over 500 Pounds. River Plate showed interest in Messi’s progress, but did not have enough money to pay for his treatment. FC Barcelona was made aware of Messi talent. After watching him play, Barcelona signed him and offer to pay for the medical bills if he was willing to move to Spain.

Messi is a player with exceptional quality. He is highly creative, and has the skills to take on defenders with ease. He is a versatile left-footed player who can play either in the middle or on either wing, or even as a centre forward. Messi makes up for the lack of height with his speed and agility. His sudden changes in pace make him a true problem for the defenders. In addition, his accurate powerful shot make him truly unique in free kick and corner situations. He has drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona, and indeed Maradona himself named Messi his «successor».

In club football, Messi made his debut against Espanyol on October 16, 2004, becoming the third-youngest player ever to play for FC Barcelona and youngest club player who played in La Liga at that that time (a record broken by team mate Bojan Krkic in September 2007). He scored his first senior goal against Albacete Balompié on May 1, 2005. Messi was 17 years, 10 months and 7 days old at that time, becoming the youngest player to ever score in a La Liga game for FC Barcelona until 2007 when Bojan Krkic broke this record.

Messi won the Under 20 World Cup in Holland with Argentina. He was crowned the leading goalscorer and voted best player in the tournament. Aged 18 years, he had become one of the hottest properties in the world game. Shortly after, he made his first full international appearance in a friendly against Hungary. In 2005, José Pekerman called Messi up to the senior Argentine national team. He made his debut on August 17, 2005 against Hungary. He was sent off in the 63rd minute, just 40 seconds after he came in as a substitute. The referee found Messi to have elbowed defender Vilmos Vanczák, who was tugging Messi’s shirt. He left the pitch disappointed and in tears.

Since then, Lionel Messi has developed into a more complete and mature player. There are still many years left in his career. Everyone is waiting for him to emulate Diego Maradona success by guiding Argentina to win the World Cup again.

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Italia Serie A Soccer – AC Milan Lost Another Key Game

The 17-time champion of the Italian Serie A, the AC Milan, lost again another important game in the Italian Serie A after, being defeated for team Sampdoria 2-1 on Sunday. With this defeat, AC Milan is getting away from the top team Inter Milan, who has now 60 points. Currently AC Milan has 48 points, 12 points away from Inter and 5 points away from the second place Juventus, which has 53 points. Also, with this result, some critics’ doubt that AC Milan could even battle for the Scudetto this season, but Coach Ancelotti still has a hope for his team.

During these past two weeks, the results of AC Milan haven’t been positive; first losing against Inter Milan 2-1 on week 24 of the season, then exiting the UEFA Cup in the Round of 32 against Werder Bremen with an overall score of 3-3 (with the away goal rule in favour of the German squad) and now losing against the 14th place Sampdoria 2-1.

As well, there’s some rumours about that Carlo Ancelotti is in risk of getting replaced at the end of the season; however, the owner of the AC Milan franchise, Silvio Berlusconi, has expressed that the job of Ancelotti is safe for now, especially since he knows that the manager is dealing with injuries in some key players and as a result the positive outcomes have not been easy to accomplish.

Nevertheless, Carlo Ancelotti is sure that his team will get better these following weeks as he expects that players like Kaka, Ronaldiho and some others will come back to the field.

«It is no doubt a difficult moment, but I am sure that things will get better soon. As soon as we recover our injured players and get a chance to train adequately, we will get back on track. I think it will take a couple of weeks but you will soon see a very different side,» stated Ancelotti.

Another concern for the AC Milan is the departure of the English midfielder David Beckham, who is leaving on March 9th to reunite with his team, the LA Galaxy. The retention of the midfielder has been a constant drama these past weeks in Italy, due to the fact that he was becoming an important part of the AC Milan late success and they want him to stay, however LA Galaxy did not want to make any negotiations over his player and now the superstar Beckham has to leave to comply his contract with the MLS team.

Despite all these difficulties, AC Milan players, Coach Ancelotti and the franchise are hoping that things will get better, so they can achieve their only and last objective, which is obtaining the third place of the standings at the end of the season to get a berth in the Champions League.

The next game of AC Milan in the Italian Serie A will be against Atalanta on Sunday March, 8th at San Siro and the hopes are set in having several injured players back in the field. This also will be a special day as this will be David Beckham’s last game with the «Rossoneri».

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Premiership Season Preview 2006/07 – Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn Rovers

Odds: 350/1

Last Five Seasons

2005/06 – 6 (Premiership), 2004/05 – 15 (Premiership), 2003/04 – 15 (Premiership), 2002/03 – 6 (Premiership), 2001/02 – 10 (Premiership).

2005/06 Cup Progress

FA Cup Fourth Round vs West Ham United (a) – lost 4-2.

Carling Cup Semi Finals vs Manchester United – lost 3-2 on aggregate.

Top Goal Scorer 2005/06: Craig Bellamy (striker) – 17 goals.

Players In

Benni McCarthy (FC Porto – £2,500,000), Jason Roberts (Wigan Athletic – Undisclosed), Zura Khizanishvili (Rangers – Free), Francis Jeffers (Charlton Athletic – Free), Jason Brown (Gillingham – Free).

Players Out

Craig Bellamy (Liverpool – £6,000,000), Paul Dickov (Manchester City – Free), Gary Harkins (Grimsby Town – Free), Lorenzo Amoruso (Released), Vratislav Gresko (Released), Steven Drench (Released).

Blackburn Rovers were the Premier League’s surprise package last season by securing a sixth placed finish following two seasons just above the relegation zone. Mark Hughes transformed the underachieving former champions and got the best out of bad boy Craig Bellamy, who finished the season as the club’s top goal scorer.

Bellamy’s outstanding form did not go unnoticed and Liverpool snapped him up for a bargain £6 million but Hughes has been quick to sign replacement attacking options. Porto striker Benni McCarthy arrived for an undisclosed fee believed to be £2.5 million. The South Africa international was art of the Porto side that won the Champions League in 2004 and signed a four year contract at Ewood Park. McCarthy has won 60 caps for South Africa and has scored 26 goals. He retired from international football after the World Cup in 2002 but reversed his decision two years later.

Wigan Athletic striker Jason Roberts also signed a four year deal, again for an undisclosed fee. Roberts was Wigan’s top scorer last season with 14 goals and Hughes swooped after he turned down a new contract to extend his stay with the Latics.

Francis Jeffers completed a hat-trick of new strikers arriving at the club this summer, with the former Everton and Arsenal forward joining on a free transfer from Charlton Athletic. Hughes has also been linked with Nicolas Anelka, who has Premiership experience with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City and Mido, who spent 18 months on loan at Tottenham Hotspur from Serie A side AS Roma.

Verdict

Blackburn’s involvement in the UEFA Cup next season will add strain to Mark Hughes’ squad which still lacks some strength in depth. It is unlikely they will be able to recreate last season’s sixth placed finish and mid table is more likely should they progress to the later stages in Europe.

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Calcio – A History of Corruption and Scandal

Italy, a country associated with fine wine, exquisite cuisine, beautiful women, and above all Calcio. The Italians are very passionate when it comes to the latter, but unfortunately their beloved game has a stark history of corruption, and scandal.

The recent Calciopli scandal that shock the football world in the summer of 2006, is just one incident in a long list of problems which has rocked Italian football (and in particular Serie A) since the English introduced the game to the Peninsula. Too many followers of Calcio, this recent scandal did not come as a shock, and in particular to Italians who have become accustomed to corruption, and scandal within their beloved game.

If you look as far back as 1926-27 (the Torino missing Scudetto incident), you will find that each proceeding decade contained at least one event that was surrounded in corruption or scandal. The majority of Italian fans have grown accustomed to this, and are generally not shocked when a new story hits the headlines. It is as though it has become part of Calcio in the peninsula.

There is a theory in Italy that players, officials (and similar) do not fix matches, but rather twist the concept of match fixing – and this is seen as the norm by everyone involved in Calcio. It is hard to explain what I mean when I state they twist the concept of match fixing, but I will try and explain it with a few examples.

It is not easy to fix a soccer match, as all of the games are public events, played in front of crowds (and sometimes TV cameras); with at least three match officials, twenty-two players, two managers, coaching staff etc. There are various ways of getting around fixing a particular result, and it is kind of a tacit agreement over a result. The lower echelon of Italian soccer is renowned for this kind of agreement, and it is also common place at the end of season in Serie A. So what is this agreement? In essence it is ‘settling for a draw’.

Deliberately settling for a draw where the result ensures some mutual benefit to both parties is common in Italy, and since nothing has officially been agreed, nothing can ever be proved. Various bookmakers are aware of this, and you will generally see very short odds on a 0-0 result, or a straight draw.

An alleged recent example can be seen on the last matchday of the 2006/07 Serie B season, when third placed Genoa entertained second placed Napoli. Napoli just needed a point for automatic promotion, and Genoa would join them if they finished 10 points above fourth placed Piacenza. A goalless draw between the pair followed, and was enough to guarantee them both promotion to Serie A.

Towards the end of the 2004/05 Serie A season, both clubs from Rome were facing a relegation battle. At the start of the derby match, both clubs appeared to try, before several conversations took place on the pitch. The result? Only six shots were managed in the entire match, and the game ended 0-0 (a result which helped both clubs).

Even though the Italians accept this as part and parcel of Calcio, they were on the brunt end of a similar alleged result in Euro 2004. Due to UEFA taking head-to-head into consideration (before overall goal difference when ranking teams level on points), a situation arose in Group C where Sweden and Denmark only needed a high scoring draw in order for them both to progress. The match surprisingly finished 2-2, which was a sufficiently high score line to eliminate the Italians (who had lower-scoring draws with both the Swedes and Danes). It was quite ironic that the Italian fans contended the result, stating that the FIFA tie-breaker should have been used, as it would have stopped the Scandinavians half-heartedly playing out the match after the score became 2-2.

Another example of alleged match fixing can generally be seen (again) on the last matchday of the season. Generally a ‘big club’ (with nothing to play for), is playing a ‘small club’ (fighting a relegation battle), and the ‘small club’ usually get a favourable result (one which they normally would not achieve during the course of the season). Inevitably this leads to accusations of match fixing, but this is usually not the case, and it is another form of twisting the original concept.

So why is this not classed as match fixing? The answer is simple – no one expects the ‘big club’ to try to hard (especially in a match that is meaningless). This is worrying, but followers of Calcio have come to accept this.

On the last matchday in Serie A for the 2006/07 season, Reggina needed a victory to be certain of avoiding relegation, and they faced an AC Milan side guaranteed Champions League football. The result? A 2-0 home win for Reggina which guaranteed their safety.

Same season, but this time the example comes from Serie B. Spezia need a victory to be certain of avoiding relegation, and they faced a daunting away trip to Juventus, who had not lost at home all season (but were already guaranteed promotion). The result? A 3-2 win for Spezia which guaranteed their safety. The theory behind the above examples is simple – why try so hard, especially when you have nothing to play for?

The above examples have all been accepted as part and parcel of Calcio, but in some cases the authorities have clamped down, and punished the various parties involved in the scandal. Some of the most famous scandals have made world headlines in the soccer world, and the first of these dates back to the late 1920s.

The 1927 scudetto was taken away from Torino, after an alleged scandal involving their bitter rivals, Juventus. An enquiry found that Juventus defender, Luigi Allemandi, had been bribed by a Torino official, before the derby (for a sum of 50,000 lire). Torino were stripped of their first title, and surprisingly no one was awarded the 1927 scudetto.

In the summer of 2006, an alleged match fixing scandal hit the headlines, named Moggiopoli, after the Juventus general manager. The scandal was uncovered by the Italian police, implicating league champions Juventus, and other major teams including AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Reggina;when a number of telephone interceptions showed a thick network of relations between team managers and referee organisations. The teams involved in the scandal had been accused of rigging games, by selecting favourable referees. Juvetus were stripped of their scudetto, relegated, and docked points, whilst the other clubs involved had various points deducted.

To the majority of followers of Calcio, this did not come as a major shock, as many fans regard the referee as corrupt (unless proven otherwise). There are various (well known) examples of refereeing decisions which fans class as corrupt, as they decided key matches, or decided a scudetto: Maurizio Turone’s disallowed goal for Roma against Juventus in 1981; Fiorentina’s loss in the 1982 scudetto; Inter and Ronaldo’s lost penalty, against Juventus, in 1998.

There are hundreds of examples of alleged match fixing, throughout the history of Calcio, and there are various scandals which have come to light, which have been uncovered by the authorities. It seems that followers of Calcio have come to accept this over the years, and it is part of the mentality of the nation to accept corruption.

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