Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Mindless thugs or adrenaline junkies?

From one corner of Peru to the far corner of Poland, hooligans have been a part of football culture for a countless number of years and it doesn’t look like it’s going to disappear anytime soon.

 

Hooliganism has been associated with football as early as the ninetieth century. Then, like now, the biggest rivalries took place between sides from the same city or area. However after the two world wars violence at football matches started to decline.

The 1960’s was plagued with social uprisings by angry and misunderstood youths. Juvenile’s crime rates were increasing rapidly throughout Britain. Looking for violence – an adrenaline rush – the youths targeted football stadiums as it was an ideal place to fight due to the large number of people at the games. Following this, teenagers mainly from council estates began to form alliances among themselves, known as firms. This gave them a sense of community, a place where they felt like they belonged.

The “English disease” was now spreading rapidly in 1980’s Britain. A rise in unemployment, racism and inflation are among the main contributing factors for increased hooligan activity. Along with the growing numbers of hooligans came a decrease in the number of police due to government cut-backs. As a result to the cut-backs only 150 police were left to control 10,000 travelling Millwall supporters on their way to Luton for an FA Cup tie. During the game Millwall fans climbed out of the away terrace and stormed the Luton fans, ripping up seats and firing missiles at the home supporters. Following this incident, known as the ‘Kenilworth Road riot’ Luton Town banned away fans for the next four seasons. It was evident that hooliganism was getting out of control.

 

 

 

 

 

On the 29th of May 1985 the Heysel Stadium disaster occurred. On this day 60,000 supporters made their way into the stadium in Brussels for the European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool. Roughly an hour before kick-off, the opposing fans began taunting each other but quickly things became violent as missiles were thrown and Liverpool supporters began to charge the Juventus section. This led to the wall dividing the supporters to collapse under the pressure which resulted in hundreds of fans being crushed and trampled. Thirty-nine fans were killed and another six-hundred injured, a majority of them Italian and Belgian. The Liverpool fans were largely blamed for the deaths; as a result of this English clubs were banned from European competition for the next five years. Six years for Liverpool. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher supported the ban, saying; “We have to get the game cleaned up from this hooliganism at home and then perhaps we shall be able to go overseas again.”

 

England was definitely not the only country prone to hooliganism as it was becoming a major problem in Italy, Netherlands, Germany and many parts of Eastern Europe. Social class was the main contributing factor in England but in Spain it’s down to sub-nationalist politics, sectarianism in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and historical regional antagonisms in Italy. In most European countries football related violence is an internal problem, meaning the violence occurs at club level. Most European sides international support is well behaved, but there are a few exceptions such as England, Germany and the Netherlands who are known for organising fights with opposing fans at major tournaments. It is believed that close to 10% of European football fans are classified as ‘violent’. So it is clear that hooliganism is not an English problem, but a European problem, and on a greater level, a world problem.

 

The government and police have worked side-by-side to prevent hooliganism and advanced techniques were being used to tackle the issue. One such technique is by using spotters. The spotter system involves a liaison officer being attached to a particular club. His job is then to identify and monitor hooligans when they are travelling to away games. The spotter would then co-operate with police forces from both the UK and abroad to inform them of any hooligans travelling who may cause trouble. As technology has developed over the years, it has as a result played an important and crucial role in the policing methods used to prevent hooliganism. CCTV cameras are now a common sight at any modern grounds, this has been the most successful method so far. The sale of alcohol has been reduced in a majority of stadiums across Britain which was seen as a catalyst to football related violence. The police have been successful at combatting hooliganism in the football grounds but these methods do not prevent the violence that occurs outside the grounds, at times organised between two rival firms. Despite the efforts of police and governing bodies hooliganism does not seem to be going away at any time soon. It may be less prevalent but it still continues throughout the world.

 

Are these die-hard fans that spend their hard earned cash travelling the country and continent to see their team play or are they thugs just using football as an excuse to locate violence?

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Spain, The Best Ever?

Amid all the celebrations of Spain’s success comes the argument; Are they the best national side ever?

But first, which teams rival Spain?

First up: The Brazil team of 1970, a fantastic side with fantastic players, playing with the traditional Brazilian brass and style. A side that included Pelé, Carlos Alberto, Roberto Rivelino and Tostão and was coached by Mario Zagallo. It certainly has all the attributes to be credited with the award. The Brazilian team won the World Cup in Mexico beating Italy 4-1 with goals from Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho, and Carlos Alberto and up until this Spanish side they were regarded as the greatest national side by many. But you have to remember that in 1970 the World Cup was made up of just 16 teams, which means fewer teams but also suggests that it was more competitive from the start with no easy games.

Next up: West Germany of 1974 no doubt one of the finest sides that Germany produced and one of the finest to come from Europe. A side that included Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, and Paul Breitner. West Germany beat a Johan Cryuff led Dutch side 2-1. West Germany also hosted the tournament.

My third challenger: This would be the French side that won the 1998 World Cup which was also hosted by France. This French side was littered with stars including the irresistible Zinedine Zidane. Alongside Zidane there was a 20 year old Thierry Henry, Laurent Blanc, and Didier Deschamps. France beat Brazil 3-0 with Zidane getting two and Petit getting the third. This French side also won the European Championship in 2000.

But what about the current Spanish side? What makes them most people’s stand out choice?

This Spain side become untouchable, quite literally, with stats showing that Spain dominate most matches in possession and passes attempted/completed. But for me what stands out between this Spain side and the other great national sides is that this isn’t just a great team but this is more of an era. The Spanish era started in 2008 when they won the European Championship they continued their good form and style in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with Spain lifting the iconic trophy after beating Holland 1-0 after extra time. In this year’s European Championship Spain always looked in control of their own destiny and ran out 4-0 winners against an Italian side that merited more than the scoreboard suggested. But in any case it seems Spain are set to be the team to beat in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and if they do manage to retain their World Cup crown they would defiantly be regarded as the best by almost all.

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In any case the beauty about football is that it is a game of opinions and the simple case is that we will never know which side is the best national side ever.

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10 Young Players to watch out for at Euro 2012 (Part 2)

Sotiris Ninis

Country: Greece

Club: Parma

Age: 22

Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger

The pacey Albanian born winger made 7 appearances for Greece in the qualifiers netting a goal in the process. Ninis was linked with moves to big European clubs such as Man United and Lyon earlier in the year, instead he opted to sign for Serie A side Parma back in March. Having twice won ‘Greece Young Player of The Year’ a lot was expected of Sotiris Ninis but so far he hasn’t lived up to the hype at Euro 2012 having only played 53 minutes of the tournament. However Greece have progressed to the quarter-finals so hopefully we will see him perform like the Greek fans know he can.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Country: England

Club: Arsenal

Age: 18

Position: Winger

“The Ox” caught a lot of peoples attention this season for Arsenal and one of them people was Roy Hodgson who gave the teenager his debut in May against Norway. Oxlade-Chamberlain is a powerful and physically strong winger who can easily knock full-backs off the ball, showing traits from his days playing rugby at school level. He started in the game against France but only came on as a late substitute against Sweden so it’s still not certain whether he will start or be sitting on the bench for England’s clash with co-hosts Ukraine today. At only 18 ‘The Ox’ still has to develop and mature as a footballer but the future looks very bright for the young Gunner.

Yann M’Vila

Country: France

Club: Rennes

Age: 21

Position: Defensive Midfielder

M’Vila has been compared to legendary French midfielder’s Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele. M’Vila was the rock in the Rennes side that finished 6th in Ligue 1 last season.  He has already captained his club Rennes, making him the youngest captain in the clubs history and has now proven to be the heart of the French team. The ball-winning midfielder has incredible vision and is constantly looking to play the ball forward. M’Vila has only played 20 minutes at the Euro’s so far due to an injury he picked up in a friendly against Serbia before the competition began. I wouldn’t expect to see M’Vila playing in Ligue 1 come next season as it looks more and more likely that he could be on his way to the Premiership to join Arsenal.

Mario Balotelli

Country: Italy

Club: Manchester City

Age: 21

Position: Striker

Most people will be familiar with Balotelli at this stage. In just one game he can have moments of madness and/or moments of brilliance. The highly entertaining Italian can be unpredictable both in his play and personality, which makes people think “What’s he going to do next?”. The Palermo native netted 13 goals for City this season as they went on to lift the Premier League for only the third time.  Gifted with pace, technical ability and a powerful shot, Balotelli can be a real handful for defenders. In August 2010 Balotelli earned his first cap for the Azzuri in a friendly match against Ivory Coast. Making him only the third black player to ever play for Italy. Last night he scored his first competitive goal for his country against Ireland, a wonderful bicycle kick inside the area which could quite possibly be goal of the tournament so far.

Holger Badstuber

Country: Germany

Club: Bayern Munich

Age: 23

Position: Defender

The German defence has been rock solid this tournament and one of the main reasons for that is the Badstuber/ Hummels defensive partnership. Badstuber has established himself as a key figure for both country and club. He helped guide Bayern Munich to the Champions League final this season but will be hoping to go one step further with Germany by lifting the European Championship trophy come July. So far he has played every minute for Germany in the Euro’s winning  over 90% of the tackles and headers he has attempted. Former Bayern Munich manager Louis Van Gaal stated that Badstuber is the “best left footed defender in Germany”. If the Germans are to go all the way to win it (which many expect them to) then Holger Badstuber will one of the main reasons for their success.

 

See Part 1 here: https://footballtopic.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/5-young-players-to-watch-out-for-at-euro-2012/

10 Young Players to watch out for at Euro 2012 (Part 1)

Kevin Strootman

Country: Netherlands

Club: PSV

Age: 22

Position: Midfielder

Known for his box-to-box displays and combative nature, PSV’s Kevin Strootman has attracted a lot of interest across Europe including Ac Milan where he is wanted to replace fellow countryman Mark Van Bommel in the defensive midfielder role. He is currently battling with Nigel De Jong for a place in the first team in the Dutch squad. A good tournament for the 22 year old midfielder could see him moving away from the Phillips Stadion this Summer.

Alan Dzagoev

Country: Russia

Club: CSKA Moscow

Age: 21

Position: Attacking Midfielder

The young Russian scored twice in Russia’s opening game against Czech Republic as they went on to win 4-1. He will be a key player for Russia if they are expected to go far. He was influential for CSKA in last seasons Champions League as they made to the round of 16, recording more key passes per game than Cristiano Ronaldo and Cesc Fabregas. With an eye for goal and able to pick out a pass with pinpoint accuracy it is safe to say that Alan Dzagoev will terrorise opposing defenders this Summer.

Robert Lewandowski 

Country: Poland

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Age: 23

Position: Striker

Many people are familiar with the Polish striker now after yet another successful Bundesliga campaign netting 22 goals for the reigning German champions. Poland’s hopes rest on Lewandowski’s shoulders and he did not disappoint as he scored the opening goal of Euro 2012 in their 1-1 draw with Greece. At the age of 23 he has already made 43 appearances for his country, bagging himself 15 goals in the process. Manchester United are apparently very interested in signing the striker and will be keeping a close eye on him at the Euro’s.

Mario Gotze

Country: Germany

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Age: 20

Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger

Despite being hit with a hip injury Gotze was still a  key player in Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga winning squad this season scoring 6 goals in just 17 games. He will more than likely not start for Germany but could prove to be trouble for fatigued defenders if brought on from the bench, turning them inside out with his blistering pace and creative play. We could well see a future star folding in front of our eyes at Euro 2012 if Mario Gotze gets the game time.

Christian Eriksen

Country: Denmark

Club: Ajax

Age: 20

Position: Midfielder

At only 20 years of age Eriksen has already made 24 appearances for Denmark and featured in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The Dane’s skilful dribbling has helped Ajax lift the Eredivise two seasons in a row (2010-11, 2011-12) and due to his fine form he was awarded ‘Danish footballer of the year’ and ‘Young Player in The Netherlands’ in 2011. Denmark will be relying on Eriksen to try guide them through the “Group of death” and into the quarter finals. If Eriksen lives up to the hype at the Euro’s then he will more than likely be leaving Ajax for bigger and better things.

Euro 2012 – Group B

Group B – or otherwise known as the “Group of Death”. Containing Portugal, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark, it’s hard to argue against that. Many expect Germany to top the group while Portugal and Netherlands fight it out for second place. However Denmark could well take points off teams in this groups, although it’s very unlikely that they will qualify.

Portugal

European Championship Record: 1984 Semi-finals, 1996 Quarter-finals, 2000 Semi-finals, 2004 Runners-up, 2008 Quarter-finals.

World Ranking: 5th

The 2004 finalists weren’t the most convincing in qualifying, coming second behind Denmark. Following defeats to both Norway and Dermark as well as a 4-4 draw with Cyprus at home there were questions being asked of Paulo Bento’s men. They met Bosnia & Herzegovina in the play-off’s were they struggled in the first leg playing out a 0-0 draw in Bosnia. However they made no mistake in the second leg putting six in the back of the Bosnian’s net, winning 6-2 on the night. Portugal will need to be more consistent if they are to get through this group.

Key Players:

Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo has had his best season to date netting 59 goals in 53 games for Real Madrid, lifting the La Liga in the process. He also scored seven goals in the qualifiers. There is no doubt that he possesses the talent to change a match with one moment of brilliance and defenders will be wary of his ability to score goals from almost anywhere on the pitch. However Ronaldo hasn’t made a major impact for Portugal in any of the major finals he’s played in so far but will be hoping that this time he can lead his national team to glory. He will need to continue his run of form if Portugal are to avoid an early group stage exit.

Fabio Coentrao

Prior to the 2010 World Cup not much people considered Coentrao to be a potential star for Portugal but when he was placed in left-back at the World Cup he made no mistakes cementing a first team place. He was arguably Portugal’s best player in South Africa, playing a huge part in the 7-0 win over North Korea as well as putting in solid performances against Ivory Coast, Brazil and Spain. He missed the Norway and Denmark matches through injury – this was the only two games they lost. He transferred to Real Madrid in July 2011 from Benfica for €30 million and played 19 games for the Spanish champions.

Germany

European Championship Record: 1972 Winners, 1976 Runners-up, 1980 Winners, 1984 Group Stage, 1988 Semi-finals, 1992 Runners-up, 1996 Winners, 2000 Group stage, 2004 Group stage, 2008 Runners-up.

World Ranking: 2nd

Three times winners Germany will be hoping to add a fourth European Championship to their trophy cabinet this Summer, and who would bet against them? Narrowly defeated by Spain at the Euro 2008 final, Germany will be confident of going one step further this time around. A young and exciting squad full of confidence they seem to have the winning formula. The Germans stormed through their qualifying group going undefeated and scoring 34 goals in just 10 games.  If anyone is to dethrone Spain you would put your money on Germany.

Key players:

Philip Lahm

Captain of both his club Bayern Munich and his country, Lahm is a model professional. It’s very rare to see him have a bad game on either stage. This could be a Summer to remember for the Munich native as he could lift both the Champions League and European Championship. Being a right-footed left-back gives him the ability to cut inside opponents and deliver crosses into the box. He scored the last minute winner against Turkey in the semi-finals of Euro 2008 to give Germany a 3-2 win and progress to the final, but it’s Lahm’s solid defending that has been a key reason for his success to date.

Mesut Ozil

Ozil set the world alight following his performances in the 2010 World Cup, being nominated for the Golden Ball (Best Player) for his efforts. After the tournament many major European clubs wanted him, including the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Barcelona but it was to Real Madrid that he signed for in August of 2010 for around €15 million. Ozil usually plays behind the forwards, playing the killer through ball or hitting a beautiful shot at goal with his left boot. In the nine games he played in qualifying he scored five goals as well as setting-up more goals than any other European player with seven. At only 23, Ozil will be hoping to make Euro 2012 a special tournament for both himself and his team-mates.

Netherlands

European Championship Record: 1976 Third, 1980 Group stage, 1988 Winners, 1992 Semi-finals, 1996 Quarter-finals, 2000 Semi-finals, 2004 Semi-finals, 2008 quarter-finals.

World Ranking: 4th

Yet another side in this group that will feel they can go all the way and win it. The 2010 World Cup finalists didn’t win the support of much neutrals in South Africa with their “anti-football” tactics, however the Dutch fans were very proud of what their side achieved. Going forward the Netherlands prove as much as threat as Spain or Germany but their weakness is definitely at the back like it has been for some amount of years. Despite a rather weak defence compared to other top European nations, Netherlands have won 23 out 25 competitive international games. Their only defeats coming to Spain at the 2010 World Cup final and a 3-2 defeat away to Sweden in qualifying for Euro 2012.

Key Players:

Robin Van Persie

Van Persie proved to the world that he is one of the best forwards in the world this season after netting 30 Premier League goals for Arsenal so far. If he can continue to score goals in the Euro’s he could well be lifting his first major trophy since winning the FA Cup in 2005. Van Persie scored six goals in six games in qualifying – four of which came against San Marino. After the four goals he was entered into the Dutch national teams top 10 all-time top goal scorers with a tally of 25 goals, surpassing Marco Van Basten. Can Van Persie continue to score goals and help his side to European glory?

Arjen Robben

Despite not playing a single game in qualifying Arjen Robben still remains a key player for Holland. He was one of the stars in their World Cup campaign, scoring against Slovakia and Uruguay. That year he lost both the World Cup and Champions League final. This year, however, he could lift both the European Championship and Champions League. A bit more luck this time around for the Dutch winger? He was the star of the show in Holland’s 3-2 over England at Wembley, scoring two goals. Robben will be hoping to give some more defenders nightmares at Euro 2012.

Denmark

European Championship Record: 1964 Fourth, 1984 Semi-finals, 1988 Group stage, 1992 Winners, 1996 Group stage, 2000 Group stage, 2004 Quarter-finals.

World Ranking: 10th

Many have wrote Denmark off already, not expecting them to put up much of a fight. Although it’s very unlikely the Danes will qualify they are very capable of taking points of the other three. They finished ahead of Portugal in qualifying after all. A team mixed with young talent and experienced players they could well put up a fight this Summer. Not many are naive enough to expect Denmark to relive the memories of twenty years gone when they lifted the European Championship. They could have a say on who qualifies for the quarter-finals and who doesn’t.

Key players:

Christian Eriksen

Possibly one of the most closely monitored players at this years finals. The 20 year old played in every single one of Denmark’s qualifying games and has captured the attention of many big European clubs. Having scored against Iceland in the qualifiers he became the youngest ever Danish player to score a goal in European qualification. He has been dubbed as “the new Michael Laudrup”. He was a key player for Ajax as they lifted the Eredivisie this season. Accurate passing and a powerful shot from distance, Eriksen is a real threat to opposing defenders. If he is to impress this Summer then it’s very unlikely that Ajax will hold onto their young Danish starlet.

Dennis Rommedahl

Another player that has played every game in qualifying is 33 year old Dennis Rommedahl. He may be in his twilight years but he still remains a vital part of the Danish team. Rommedahl netted three goals and assisted five in the eight qualifying games. He is now Denmark’s most capped outfield player of all-time with 114 caps. He was arguably Denmark’s best player at the World Cup with his man of the match performance coming against Cameroon where he made and scored a goal. Will this be Rommedahl’s last tournament or will he press on?

Final verdict: Germany to top the group and the Netherlands to grab second place after beating Portugal in the last game.