FC Barcelona – The Rijkaard Years

Frank Rijkaard is a world-renowned football player and coach known for his no-nonsense, aggressive style of play. His tenure as manager of FC Barcelona (familiarly known by its fans simply as Barça) was marked by successes and controversy.

The period in which Rijkaard was brought into FC Barcelona was one of turmoil for the club. The past few years had been very disappointing, accentuated by players and managers coming and going, including the betrayal of vice-captain Luis Figo, who left the team to join their rivals Real Madrid. Newly elected FC Barcelona’s new president Joan Laporta desperately wanted to turn things around for the team and began by bringing in Dutchman Rijkaard as manager in 2003. Rijkaard’s appointment came as a surprise to FC Barcelona’s fans due to his inexperience and tarnished reputation.

Rijkaard had made a name for himself as a player for AC Milan years earlier. Although he had played for other teams before and after, it was during his tenure as a player for AC Milan that he was most known. Rijkaard was known for his aggressive style and hot-headed temperament, which brought him many victories and controversy, respectively.

By the time he sat in Barça’s manager’s chair, however, he had his temper under control. He had already done two years at the Netherlands national football team, leading them to the Euro 2000 semi-finals, and two years managing Sparta Rotterdam, where he did not fare so well. This so-so performance seemed to light a fire under the young manager, as he came into FC Barcelona with a new purpose. Rijkaard was now known simply as a no-nonsense manager with little flash. He let his and his players’ actions speak for themselves on and off the field. They were just out to win the match in the most impressive manner possible.

Though he got off to a slow start (losing to arch rivals Real Madrid in December 2003), Rijkaard soon turned the team around. FC Barcelona finished the 03-04 season as La Liga runners-up before Rijkaard brought in new players to round out the team. The addition of the new roster allowed the club to go to win La Liga for two consecutive years in 04-05 and 05-06.

Rijkaard was the first Barca coach to ever win twice at Santiago Barnebeu, their rival’s stomping grounds. He was also nominated for UEFA’s Team of the Year in 2005 and honored in 2006 for his contributions to the European Cup. He also managed the team to a victory in the 2005-06 Champions League, which made him only the fifth person ever to win the European Cup both as a manager and a player.

After these victories, however, came a drought. The following two years were not so great for the team, culminating in a loss to Manchester United in the Semi-Final of the ’07-’08 UEFA Champions League. There was much speculation after this about Rijkaard leaving the club, due to them not winning a trophy for two years. Finally, on May 8, 2008, it was announced that Frank Rijkaard would be leaving the team at the end of the season.

Rijkaard has now been replaced with Barca B coach Josep Guardiola. Many players have left the team and have been replaced with good prospects. What this means for the future of the team has yet to be seen. With the fickle nature of football club presidents and fans, it remains to be seen how Guardiola will measure up to his predecessors.

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The Most Popular Liverpool FC Merchandise

There is no doubt that Liverpool FC is one of the truly great soccer clubs of the world. Admittedly in recent years they may not have dominated the game in the way they did in the 1970s but the truth is that they have always made their impact felt at the highest level of European soccer.

And so it is hardly surprising that Liverpool has thousands of ardent fans scattered all over the world. Many of these fans never lose a single opportunity to feel closer to their club. One way of doing this is by getting hold player’s shirts and other playing kits and memorabilia that can easily be found in stores selling Liverpool merchandise.

Actually there is a very wide range of different stuff that you can buy. Even with the team shirts you will have to choose between the shirts the boys usually wear for their home games and what they would ordinary don for away matches. Or if you are a really serious fan you can make sure that you get both the strips.

As is the case with other soccer clubs, Liverpool FC player’s shirts are amongst the most popular merchandise that fans look to own so as to identify themselves with this great soccer club. There are even fans who purchase the complete team set right up to the goalkeeper.

Liverpool merchandise can also be a great idea if you need to get a gift for somebody whom you already know is a fan of the club. However it may be a good idea to start by finding out what memorabilia they already have so that you do not end up getting them something that they got a long time ago.

Another Liverpool item that is wildly popular are the hats if you have watched Liverpool games on TV you may have noticed what most fans like wearing. The most popular hats are called the beanies and will usually be decorated with the Liverpool colours and may sometimes even have the names of players and shirt numbers they usually wear.

Fans usually prefer to have the names of Liverpool legends on these hats. One such Liverpool soccer player who is a true legend is Steve Gerard. Although at a tender age he even had a trial with Manchester United, Gerard ended up signing his first professional soccer contract with Liverpool. The amazing thing is that in his first season he always looked pretty nervous and not the kind of player who would make any impact at Anfield. But in the 2000-2001 season Gerard exploded. Not only did he score 10 goals but he was clearly a very key member of the team that ended up winning both the FA cup and were also UEFA champions.

Who can forget Gerard’s enormous contribution to that sensational Champions league victory where Liverpool came from behind having conceded 3 goals by half time and ended up winning. This determined player won man of the match then.

And so you will understand when Liverpool fans seem to be crazy about Gerard wearing all kinds of team memorabilia and Liverpool merchandise that has his name or shirt number on it.

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Will Messi Win the World Cup?

One of the endless debates in the football arena is the one about who is the best player that ever played the game. Pele and Maradona are the most common names for this flattering title but recently young Lionel Messi challenged the trends. Not only by interfering between the two football giants, but seriously threatening to take the position as the sole king on the throne.

Arguably the only remaining barrier on Messi’s way is the World Cup title. Given the Argentinian’s age and form Brazil 2014 seems to be Messi’s golden ticket to take yet another and ultimate title as the greatest footballer of all times.

Messi has been breaking record after record in the last few years and pushed the football standards to levels that were unthinkable not a long ago. He managed to raise the season goal/game ratio above 1.0 and with the pace of the last years he can become the highest UEFA Champions League scorer of all time at age of 26. He is also one of the main pretenders for the 5th consecutive ballon d’Or which is already his record (currently he is the holder of four consecutive titles).

Despite all the statistics many football experts are arguing that in order to be considered the best footballer one needs to win the World Cup which is the most important event in the football world. By achieving that Messi will undoubtedly join Pele and Maradona in the endless battle. Moreover if considering his young age he has the possibility to permanently settle himself as the best footballer of all time.

Brazil 2014 will be another battle between the two contemporary best football players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players achieved many victories with clubs (Barcelona and Real Madrd) but they still miss important international trophies with their respective national teams (Argentina and Portugal) therefore the World Cup will be a great occasion for the two to prove themselves also on national team stages and gain valuable points in their ongoing battle.

In the beginning of the 2013/2014 season has been experiencing some hard times because of repetitive injuries. He has been playing on extremely high levels for the last 5 years and some are speculating that now the side effects are showing up. Nevertheless the football lovers hope that he will be totally recovered and fit for the most important event of this season which is the world cup in Brazil 2014.

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The Marseille Scandal – How Blind Ambition Won and Lost European Glory

That was certainly the case with the French club Olympique de Marseille of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Marseille were the most successful club in France as resplendent in their brilliant white soccer uniforms they won the French first division (Ligue 1) four seasons in a row, and their brilliant run of success culminated in 1993, when they became the first ever (and till now the only) French club to win the European Cup.

The man behind Marseille’s success was Bernard Tapie. Tapie was a highly successful businessman and sports lover who already ran a cycling team and had been a minister in the French government when he took over Marseille Football Club and decided to propel it to the very top, not just in France but all over Europe and eventually the World. To pursue his vision Tapie invested a large sum of money in the club, signing some of the cream of European players of the era, including Jean-Pierre Papin, Chris Waddle, Klaus Allofs, Abedi Pelé, Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly, Rudi Völler and Eric Cantona. On the coaching front, Tapie, a highly charismatic personality, even succeeded in persuading Kaiser Franz Beckenbauer to leave his beloved Bayern Munich to manage the club for a season

A man of tremendous ambition and drive, Bernard Tapie saw his dreams become a reality within just a few seasons, when in May 1993. Basile Boli scored the only goal in the European Champions League final against A.C. Milan held in the Olympic Stadium in Munich. After 38 barren years, France could finally boast a team that had won a major European competition. It seems unbelievable that just six weeks later, Marseille’s and Tapie’s world would be turned upside down as he and his beloved club would be involved in a scandal that would set the club back five years and tarnish every victory that they had gained in the years that Tapie was at the helm.

The scandal broke when a player from the mid-table French club Valenciennes, Christophe Robert made allegations to the press that a Marseille player Jean-Jacques Eydelie had made an offer to him and to his team- mates, to throw the game between the clubs that had taken place a few weeks before the final. Robert admitted that he had accepted the bribe of 250,000 francs yet overcome by guilt had not spent it, and instead had buried it in his Aunt’s garden. The matter made its way into the police hand’s and after some grueling interrogation Eydelie admitted that he had bribed Robert, but under pressure from the club’s then general manager, Jean-Pierre Bernes.. From there on all roads lead to president Bernard Tapie. Tapie eventfully confessed that he had authorized the attempted bribing of the Valenciennes players as he wanted to have the league title sown up so as the players could be free to concentrate on the final against Milan.

Marseille were stripped of the French title that season and later relegated to the second division not just because of the bribing scandal over financial regularities. Tapie, Bernes and Eydelie were later imprisoned.

The bribing scandal forced Marseille to relinquish their 1992-93 Division 1 title and the right to play in the UEFA Champions League 1993-94, the 1993 European Super Cup and the 1993 Intercontinental Cup, as well as being demoted to the second division. The scant compensation that Tapie could derive from the whole sordid affair was that his beloved Marseille were not stripped of their Champions League.

Since the scandal of 1993 Marseille have failed to win a single trophy and Tapie has gone missing from the French football landscape

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A Profile of Samuel Eto’o

One of the ironies of Samuel Eto’o playing for FC Barcelona is that he originally joined arch-rivals Real Madrid, who immediately put him out on loan; first to second division CD Leganes; then to first division Espanyol after playing just one league match for Madrid; and finally to Mallorca. He did so well at the latter club that they signed him for a club record and became the highest scorer in the history of the club with a total of 54 goals between 2000 and 2004.

The Cameroon striker signed to FC Barcelona after a series of negotiations between Barcelona, Mallorca and Real Madrid who had retained an option on him. On one hand Madrid didn’t require him in the team as they already had two strikers in the form of Ronaldo and Raul; on the other hand they didn’t want him to play for Barcelona, a club that was looking for a quality striker to cement the attack after they were unable to come to an agreement with midfielder Edgar Davids, who had spent the second half of the 2003-2004 season on loan to the Catalan club.

With Eto’o in place as striker and Ronaldinho as attacking mid-fielder, Samuel Eto’o quickly proved to be good value for money and scored a total of 24 league goals in the 2004-2005 season. Although he helped FC Barcelona to take the league title, he narrowly missed the title of top goal scorer in La Liga.

However, at the celebrations that followed at the Nou Camp he gave speech in which he openly criticised Real Madrid, apparently venting the bitterness he felt for being passed over by the club in favour of being put on loan. He later had to retract his statement and issue an apology.

The following year Samuel Eto’o was able to improve of his league score and with a total of 26 goals he narrowly took the «Pichichi» crown, just one goal ahead of David Villa from Valencia. His strong performance on the pitch saw him also score six Champions League goals, helping to propel Barcelona all the way to the final against Arsenal. He was strongly implicated in the result as first the Arsenal goalkeeper was sent off for a foul against Eto’o in the first 20 minutes; failing to capitalise on the one man advantage, Eto’o equalised in the 76th minute from a pass from Larsson and Belletti scored the winning goal a few minutes after.

On the basis of a strong season Samuel Eto’o was awarded the title of UEFA Champion’s League Best Forward as well as Best African Player for the third year running.

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Cristiano Ronaldo – Read the Biography on Cristiano Ronaldo

Son of Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro and José Dinis Aveiro, Cristiano Ronaldo was born on February 5, 1985 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal to the name Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. His second name Ronaldo was given to him by his father, who was a great admirer of U.S. president Ronald Regan. The youngest of four children, Cristiano Ronaldo has three siblings; an older brother Hugo and two sisters; Elma and Liliana Cátia who works as a singer in Portugal by the stage name Ronalda.

The Portuguese footballer who plays for Barclays Premier League 2006-2007, 2007-2008 Champions and winner of the 2007-2008 Champions League; Manchester United. Wearing the number 7 shirt, he plays as a winger, a central attacker and as a second forward. His passion for football was seen as early as age three and by age six when he started primary school this passion became even more obvious. His football career started at age eight when he first played for an amateur team Andorinha, for which his father was the kit man. In 1995 at just ten years old, his reputation grew in Portugal, this saw the two top teams in Madeira, in CS Marítimo and CD Nacional showing a keen interest in signing the youngster. He signed for CD Nacional and after a title winning season; he went on a three day trial at Sporting who immediately signed him for an undisclosed sum of money.

While at Sporting the Portuguese winger trained at the club’s football factory, the Alcochete; where his skills were nurtured. Though his progression at the club was obstructed by his growth, Cristiano Ronaldo became the only player in the club’s history to represent the Under-16, Under-17, Under-18, B team and first-team all in the same season. He scored two goals on his debut for Sporting against Moreirense and featured in Portugal’s Under 17 team for the UEFA Under 17 Championships. His appearance for Portugal at these championships sparked the interest of Liverpool’s then manager Gérard Houllier at the age of 16 but Houllier refused to sign him because he was deemed too young.

However, in 2003 the winger caught the eye of Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson when Sporting beat Manchester United 3-1 in a match that marked the inauguration of the Alvalade XXI stadium in Lisbon. With the departure of David Beckham, Manchester needed a right winger and he was signed for a fee of £12.24 million, becoming the Manchester United’s first Portuguese player ever. The Portuguese winger made his first appearance for the Red Devils at Old Trafford in a 4-0 win. He scored his first goal for Manchester United in the 2004 FA Cup Final against Millwall FC, the winger also scored Manchester United’s 1000th goal in a 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough in October 2005. At the end of the season, he had a tally of 10 goals and was voted by fans to be FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year 2005, an award he also won in 2006.

In the summer of 2006, the Portugal winger was at the center of a controversy with fellow Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney; when both teams met in the world cup quarter finals. The incident saw Rooney being shown a red card and the resulting elimination of England from the world cup on penalties; the last of which was taken by the winger. Despite the incident both players remained friends and in November 2006, he won the Barclays Player of the Month award again an award he also won in December 2006. He scored his 50th goal for Manchester United which proved to be the decisive goal that gave Manchester United their first Premiership title in four years against rivals Manchester City.

In April 2007, the Portuguese national signed a new five year deal worth £120,000 a week, making him the highest paid player in Manchester United’s history. Among his accolades, the Portuguese footballer won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, the PFA Young Player of the Year awards, the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year, the Football Writers’ Association Award and 2007 Portuguese Footballer of the Year at the end of his 2006-2007 season at Old Trafford.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2007-2008 season for the Barclays Premier League Champions saw him exceeding George Best’s forty year old record for the most goals scored by a midfielder in a season, at 32 goals by scoring 42 goals in all competitions helping Manchester United to back to back Premiership titles and the coveted UEFA Champions League title. Ronaldo who also placed third in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 2007 will be looking to place first in the same awards this year as he has proven to be the best player on the planet, with this season’s stellar performances. Cristiano Ronaldo however had a very disappointing Euro 2008 campaign with Portugal, which saw him scoring only one goal for his country that was eliminated by Germany in the quarter finals. He has also been linked to a lucrative transfer deal worth approximately EUR100 million euros to La Liga giants Real Madrid.

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Lionel Messi – Player Focus

Another off the Argentine assembly line of «New Maradonas», Lionel Messi may be the first to live up to that unfair comparison. Where Javier Saviola, Juan Roman Riquelme and Pablo Aimar have unsurprisingly failed to match HIS high standards despite initial promise, Messi has shown that even at a young age he is able to carry the weight of expectant teammates and a nation on his shoulders.

Credit must also be given to his Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard for not rushing him into a starting place at Barcelona he is more than ready to hold.

«It is clear Messi is a talent, a future player, but I ask that everyone continues supporting him when he is out of the team because he is still very young.» Rijkaard said in a recent interview. He continued:

«I’m convinced about him because I know he isn’t paying attention to all the speculation in the media.»He prefers to do his talking on the pitch.»

In fact his three goals and one assist in nine league starts for Barcelona this season to add to his goal and assist in the UEFA Champions League back up his coaches claim, and at 18 years young we are only just starting to see glimpses of his enormous potential. Messi states:

«I want to keep on learning and I hope things go well for me. The thing is to help the team as much as possible.»

These are the words of a young man with a focused head on his shoulders and more importantly good advisors around him. How many times have we seen the vultures swoop in on young prodigies sweet talking them and their parents into committing career suicide by sulking and demanding more playing time only to become no more than a trivia question five years down the road.

With the World Cup in Germany swiftly approaching Lionel Messi will definitely be one to watch if selected for national duty.

Enrique Domínguez, Messi’s former coach said «He could do things with the ball that defied the laws of physics. The only other person I have ever seen do that was Diego Maradona».

Let us all recall that Maradona himself did not come into his own until the 1986 World Cup in Mexico despite being tipped for great things in Spain four years prior. That World Cup was a general disappointment for Maradona as well as Argentina. Messi will be three years younger than Maradona was in his first World Cup appearance and it is important that we all allow Lionel to continue developing at his current pace without placing on him too much pressure for a teenager to handle. For his part Messi must maintain his enthusiasm and work ethic that has so far impressed his coaches and peers. If he can do that then the sky is indeed his limit.

    Career Highlights

    June 24, 1987
    Born in Rosario, Argentina

    2000
    Lionel and his family move to Spain to help treat his hormonal growth deficiency

    Signs for Barcelona at the age of 13

    October 16, 2004
    Makes his Barcelona first tem debut against RCD Espanyol

    May 1 2005
    Becomes the youngest league scorer in Barcelona’s history against Albacete when he scored his first goal at 17 years, ten months and seven days

    June 2005
    Helps the Argentina Under 20 team win the FIFA World Youth Championship scoring two goals against Nigeria in the Final

    June 27, 2005
    Renews his contract with Barcelona until 2010 with a EUR150 million buy-out clause

    August 4, 2005
    Receives his first call up to the Argentine national team

    September 25, 2005
    Obtains Spanish citizenship allowing him to play more games for Barcelona no longer being restricted by the non-EU player quota

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I hope you enjoyed and if you did make sure to drop a suggestion down in the comments! Also thank you for all the recent support on the channel! Have a great day 🔥

Songs used:

Track: Anixto – Ride or Die [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: 
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it’s different – Shadows (feat. Miss Mary) [NCS Release]

Track: Jim Yosef x ROY KNOX – Sun Goes Down [NCS Release]
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Heuse & Zeus X Crona – Pill(feat. Emma Sameth)[NCS Release]

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Zlatan Ibrahimovich – The Perfect Striker

There are times when you need that flamboyant man up front! The kind who takes the ball, runs at defenders, makes space and scores. Then there are times when you are a team like Barcelona, who come forward in hordes.

With the likes of Messi and, now, David Villa in attack, the role of the central man becomes different. He is no longer required to beat opponents, just bringing the others into the game is enough. So why did we pick Zlatan Ibrahimovich as the core player for this article?

You’ll find out!

THE DIRECT PLAY

In England, football isn’t about finesse and beauty, unless you are Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspurs or Arsenal. Even in these teams, only Chelsea is the one that actually uses the direct route. Manchester United can also join the club at times.

The idea is simple! Boot the ball up the field, towards your target man, hope that he gets to it before the defenders, and hope that he can hold on long enough to allow the others to come forward. This is an effective strategy when you are under pressure, or up against a stronger team. However, in England, this seems to be the strategy of choice.

The problem comes when you are playing with strikers like Jermaine Defoe, Wayne Rooney or even Fernando Torres.

None of these strikers have what it takes to play the target man. Sure, they are all capable of being the «go to» guy when it comes to scoring chances. In build-up play however, they aren’t what you would want. As a coach, a Wayne Rooney running at defences isn’t as important as a Peter Crouch or Emile Heskey who can, somewhat, hold up the ball.

The fact that they play for teams that require them to do so also helps.

WHEN TO HOLD UP

Usually, when weaker teams play, they are more or less under pressure for a majority of the game. This means that when they do get possession, they need to make the most of it. Attacking on the counter is good, but unless you have players who can get up the pitch quick enough, counters are worthless.

Clearing the ball out of danger, up the pitch, can get your striker into play! With little support upon receiving the ball, the striker has no choice but to either run at defenders, or hold his position for support.

The former, more often than not, leads to loss of possession!

So, holding up the ball means that those midfielders get that extra bit of time to come up and take the ball off. This can not only lead to a quick counter, but can also allow numbers to pile up, resulting in possession play at the other end of the pitch.

Besides the obvious counter attack, strikers will need to hold onto the ball when midfielders are struggling to make space. Passing the ball ahead, to the target man, brings the defenders up in the hope of winning the ball. If the striker can hold onto the ball, defenders will be drawn out, bringing the entire line higher up on the pitch.

This means that midfielders, or other strikers, get that time to pick out spaces in a moving defence. Through balls or simple layoffs to the back, are ideal for relieving the pressure and creating opportunities.

WHY ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVICH

Think about it, what does the target man need? Power? Finishing ability? Strength on the ball? Ability to win common balls?

Yes, all of the above! What Ibrahimovich has, is all that and more!

Excellent ball control, the ability to beat defenders on one-on-ones, and even one-on-twos at times, the skill to thread that perfect pass, the vision to pick out that wonderful run – He has a lot more to offer for sure!

Then why did he have a dismal season at Barcelona?

Well, he didn’t!!! Here’s why!

In 2009-10, Ibrahimovich started 23 games for Barcelona in the League, 9 in the UEFA Champions League and 1 in the Spanish Cup. He came on as a substitute 6 times in the league, and once each in the other two formats. He was taken off in just 7 games in the league, 4 in the UEFA Champions League and also in the only game he started, in the Spanish Cup.

Guardiola persisted with Ibrahimovich despite the Swede scoring just 16 goals in the League, 4 in the UEFA Champions and one in the Spanish Cup. Not the 30 goal striker but a decent 19 goal tally. Is that enough for a player like Ibra?

SUPPORTING ROLE STATS

In the League, Ibrahimovich created 30 goals, 7 of which were when he came on as a substitute. This tally is an incredible 12 in 9 UEFA Champions League games and 1 in the Spanish Cup start that he made. He earned a penalty in the league and won the ball 20 times, with 4 more occasions in Europe.

To put things into perspective, we compared him with another top European striker, Wayne Rooney. Here is what we got!

Wayne Rooney scored 26 goals in 32 league games – more than Ibrahimovich! He scored 2 in the Carling Cup, 5 in the UEFA Champions League – both more than Ibrahimovich! Here is the clincher, however – Rooney had just 7 assists, in ALL competitions, for Manchester United and England (This includes all qualifying and FIFA World Cup games as well). That figure is less than Zlatan’s figures for the UEFA Champions League alone.

Both played as lone strikers up front, in teams with two distinct styles of attacking football. Rooney had 90 shots on goal compared to Ibra’s 94, but that can also be attributed to Barcelona’s playing style.

VERDICT ON COMPARISON

Wayne Rooney was playing with a team that doesn’t pass or hold the ball like Barcelona does. However, it has to be said that Ibrahimovich, despite playing in a team like Barcelona, had a role unlike most central strikers do. At least for Barcelona i.e.!

Guardiola played Ibrahimovich as a target man, who would hold up the ball, pass it around, help keep possession and even score the odd goal every now and then. Ibrahimovich earned a lot of flak for his inability to score and for giving the ball away. However, 43 assists from a target man, in one season of football, is an extraordinary number by any means!

Yes, the fact that he plays for Barcelona means that more passes turn into assists! It also, however, shows that when Ibrahimovich played for Malmo FF, Ajax, Juventus and Inter Milan, in a regular striker’s role, he was prolific! In his 12 year career, Ibrahimovich has had just 4 occasions when he’s ended in single-figure digits, in his league goals column. Two of them were for Malmo, when he played just 6 games in his debut season and 8 in his third season with the team.

His settling down season with Ajax saw him score just 6 while his final season at Juventus saw him score just 7. Besides that, Ibrahimovich has played the supporting striker role to perfection.

WHAT HE GIVES TO THE ROLE

For Ibrahimovich, it is more than just about playing as the support-striker. His goals, in any shirt, have brought people to their feet with mouths wide open. He shoots with incredible power, scoring from unimaginable angles and with spectacular precision. His dribbling goes against all logic. For a striker who’s 6’4″, twisting and turning should be difficult – or so physics says!

Ibrahimovich is a master at dribbling. His close control is immaculate and he has the tendency to humiliate defenders. Add to that a blistering burst of speed and you have the perfect attacking striker.

However, that is not all the Ibrahimovich is about. So many times, we see him run through more than one defender, sometimes even three, holding them off with sheer power. The fact that he can ease the ball past players, and not go down easily, means that he, more often than not, gets back onto the ball!

With his back to goal, Ibrahimovich is a bag of surprises.

First off, his height, agility and control allows him to get to balls, and hold them, that others couldn’t imagine. His skills baffle defenders and when he has his back to you, there is no telling what’s coming next.

He can thread a delightful pass; turn & run into space; lay it off for an oncoming teammate; hold possession; whiz past the defender with a fantastic turn followed by a burst of speed, or simply turn and slot the ball into any corner of the net with power or precision or both!

If that isn’t mind-blowing, what is? With Barcelona, Ibrahimovich has set up teammates more often than tried for goal himself. Guardiola has milked his height and strength to the limit. The fact that the Barcelona coach wasn’t willing to let Ibrahimovich go is a sign that he plans for more of the same in 2010-11.

THE CURRENT TEAM

Thierry Henry was no David Villa in his time! In 2009-10, Henry had to play on the left, when Pedro wasn’t used. However, Henry was merely a replacement, a backup – not first choice. Way past his prime, Henry was second fiddle to Ibra or Pedro, as Guardiola wanted. The fact that he played Henry so often is more out of compulsion than choice.

Now, with Lionel Messi on the right and David Villa on the left, Ibrahimovich will be more valuable down the middle. Throughout the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Villa showed what he can do wide out on the left, cutting in. Messi has already shown that for the right side of the field.

Ibrahimovich did, what he did in 2009-10, with Pedro on one side. Imagine the havoc he will wreak when Pedro is replaced by Villa! Like we, at Cleat Beat, like to say, «it ain’t ‘magic’ until its ‘Ibrahi-magic'»! Not cool enough, but could work!!!

tiendas de camisetas de futbol by La calidad del producto es más que decente, y destacable la ventilación que tiene la camiseta. Muy buen producto para apoyar a la Roja.

New Hopes? Guardiola To Lead Barca

One of the oldest and most well-known football clubs in the history of the sport; the FC Barcelona has been struggling over the past seasons in the Spanish first division in order to get back on track. It has definitely been a bumpy ride for the Catalan group as many of its football have began to diminish their usual shine; either due to injuries or constant internal affairs that do not seem to reconcile.

However, the Barça continues to be an European football powerhouse with 18 Liga titles, 7 Spain Supercopa, 2 UEFA Championship League, 24 Copa del Rey and 2 European Super Cups as background. The team draws large amounts of followers due to the magnificent play display and its football players who make the show worth seeing; players such as: Samuel Eto’o, Xavi, Ronaldinho, Gianluca Zambrotta, Thierry Henry, Lionel Messi, and Rafael Márquez have supported the Spanish team for the recent era.

As of 2003 the Spanish club hired former AC Milan and Dutch star Frank Rijkaard to lead the club and during his first season the Barcelona obtained the Liga championship besides the Super Copa and one of the most incredible accomplishments a UEFA Champions League title which ended the team’s drought of 14 years.

Most recently during the 2006-07 season the Barcelona began to show some signs of weakness as the club finished second in the Liga and were not able to conquer any other European tournament. Therefore; the team’s leaders decided it was time for a major change as they have asked Rijkaard to step down.

«Joan Laporta [FC Barcelona President] has announced that Frank Rijkaard will end his career at the club at the end of this current 2007/08 season. Josep Buardiola, current coach of Barça B, has been picked as his replacement on the bench of FC Barcelona. «After a meeting of the Board of Directors, the president Joan Laporta appeared before the media to announce the takeover on the bench of the first team of FC Barcelona at the end of the season. On June 30, Frank Rijkaard will no longer be coach of FC Barcelona and Josep Guardiola will be his replacement.»

The announcement has left many questions as what exactly happened in the club’s locker room as despite the Dutch Coach’s success his leave has become a need. Many have stated the real reason is the players themselves who don’t count with the proper encouragements and a positive attitude besides the obvious disagreements between the club and some of their super stars as Ronaldihno and Thierry Henry. Others claim that two years without a title is a clear sign it is time for a new approach in order to shift the future.

On the other hand, new coach Guardiola who will take over from the beginning of the new football season was leading the FC Barcelona B team since 2007 and he has a vast knowledge in the sport as he is a former Al Ahly of Qatar, Brescia, AS Roma, and Mexico’s Dorados player. We certainly hope to see an improvement in the team’s play and attitude as it has everything required to be one of Spain’s top winners and achieve a new title during the 2008-09 campaign.

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