Wednesday, 30 May 2012

England Can Take Heart from Chelsea Heroics

After Chelsea’s heroics in this season’s Champions League, the comparisons are mounting between what Chelsea have achieved, and what England could potentially achieve, this summer, at Euro 2012.

Of course, Chelsea were the underdogs going into both the semi-final, against Barcelona, and Bayern Munich, in the final, but they came through to be successful.

Now, with England’s recent disappointments in major competitions, and with the low expectations on the team winning the tournament, England fans are clinging on to the hope that Roy Hodgson’s men might just be able ‘to do a Chelsea’.

This comparison actually makes sense. Chelsea proved that anything is possible. They beat Barcelona, who are the equivalent of the Spain national team, and who both have that ‘unbeatable’ status.

Additionally, England will have four players in the squad who were all part of that Chelsea team, with John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, and Gary Cahill.

Hopefully, the experience and belief that these four players will have picked up, in recent weeks, will be picked up on by the rest of the England team, to give them that belief that they can go onto to be successful, even if it does mean having to play the world champions, Spain.

Not just fans are taking note of the comparisons. Roy Hodgson himself said, last week, that he hopes the ‘Chelsea factor’ will help England. France defender, Patrice Evra, also acknowledged the threat that England will pose to the rest of Europe.

Evra fears that England have received a welcome shot in the arm, ahead of Euro 2012, after Chelsea's UEFA Champions League success.

"I take the example of Chelsea. They were at rock bottom, when Di Matteo took over, but they have ended up as champions of Europe. The England team remain the team who really want to beat us."

For insights on another team with low expectations, this summer, visit the Greece Euro 2012 betting website. Alternatively, catch up with one of the bookies’ favourites, on the Betfair Netherlands betting page.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Where Will Their Goals Come From?

When the Czech Republic first take to the field against Russia, on 8 June, many of their fans may be worrying just where their goals are going to come from. Michal Bilek’s side only found the net on 12 occasions, despite conceding just eight in a successful qualifying campaign.

The concern can be found in a lack of a reliable goal scorer. Defender, Michal Kadlec, managed four during qualifying, and only once did the Czechs bag more than two goals in any game: a 4-1 victory over lowly Lithuania.

Kadlec scored a brace in that clash, both strikes from the penalty spot. His only goal in open play came via a tap-in against Liechtenstein, the full-back also scoring an equalising penalty against Scotland in the final minute of play at Hamden Park.

The Czech Republic cannot continuously rely on a defender to pull them out of trouble. Captain, Tomas Rosicky, and former Liverpool striker, Milan Baros, should have done more than yield one goal between them in qualifying.

Granted, the Czechs came through a five-nation group, with two of their games against world champions, Spain, but to score so few against the rest of the field suggests their Euro 2012 appearance may be no more than a cameo.

As the tournament’s lowest-scoring qualifiers, the Czechs are somewhat blessed to be in a group that should not witness the most goal-friendly collection of games.

Greece scored just 14 in qualifying, while Russia faired a little better, with 17 themselves. If the Czechs are going to progress from Group A, they need to find some firepower up front, or risk monotonous 0-0 draws against resolute opposition.

The England side have a similar issue to the Czechs; the absence of Wayne Rooney in the first few qualifying matches has resulted in a reduced opinion of Roy Hodgson’s team in the England betting odds.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

How England’s Midfield Should Line Up At The Euros

You  would have to say that Roy Hodgson has a strong midfield line-up to choose from, for his England Euro 2012 squad in Poland and Ukraine, and he will be hard-pushed to select his first midfielders for the game with Sweden.

Aside from Stuart Downing, who was a complete surprise call up, there can be little complaints with the other nine players, namely, Theo Walcott, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry, Scott Parker, James Milner, Ashley Young, and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.

Such is the strength in depth, that the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Adam Johnson, who could occupy the wings, will be both disappointed to miss out, particularly at the expense of Downing.

I think if there was ever a lesson to learn from in the World Cup, it was that England must play in a 4-5-1 formation, which Capello stubbornly refused to accept in South Africa.

Hodgson should address this and I think the squad is perfectly balanced to play in this way.

For me, although many people have claimed, over the years that Gerrard and Lampard cannot play together in the same team, I think with Scott Parker behind them, they are England’s best options as the other two midfielders.

Some will argue that they are old and have missed their chance, but Gerrard is the captain, and so he will play against Sweden; Lampard has proved to us all, by winning the Champions League, that he is still capable of big things.

The fact that they are past their peak will actually work better for them both, as there will be less pressure and expectation on them.

As for the wings, I would have personally put Sturridge or Johnson on the right, with Ashley Young on the left, but, as those two have been left out, it looks like Theo Walcott or Oxlade Chamberlain will adopt the position on the right.

Once Rooney is spearheading the attack, I think England will be in good shape to be a real threat from midfield. The Three Lions are currently a disappointing fifth-favourite to win in Eastern Europe, according to the Euro 2012 Group D betting website.

Check out the Betfair Russia Euro 2012 odds for news on a team expected to defy expectations, this summer.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Norwich 3 - 3 Arsenal

Norwich City battled to a 3-3 draw against Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, earlier today, to put clear daylight between themselves and the relegation battle, and inflict a blow to the Gunners’ Champions League prospects for the 2012/13 campaign. The result was Arsenal’s fourth without a win in as many games.

Arsenal could sink to fifth in the table, by Monday, if Newcastle and Tottenham win their respective matches against Manchester City and Aston Villa, on Sunday. Just two points separate the Gunners from their closest league rivals. Think you know how the season is going to end? Have a bet on Bet Victor.

Yossi Benayoun surprised the visiting Canaries with a goal in the second minute of the match. Fortunately, for the travelling Norwich fans, at least, Wes Hoolahan quickly found a reply for the yellows, easily beating Arsenal custodian, Wojciech Szczesny at the twelfth minute mark.

Grant Holt then gave City the advantage, a development that only served to anger the Gunners; Dutch talisman, Robin van Persie, hit two in quick succession to give Arsenal the lead with just ten minutes remaining of the encounter. Wes Morison added a crucial third for Norwich, to drag the tie level.

The dying moments of the match brought some controversy, when referee, Anthony Taylor, snubbed Arsenal’s penalty claims over a “blatant”, to quote the BBC, shove on van Persie. The offending Canary, Kyle Naughton, can count himself fortunate that the presiding official chose to look the other way.

Arsenal will play against West Bromwich Albion on the final day of the season, next Sunday. However, the fate of their Champions League campaign may be out of the Gunners' collective hands. Norwich will play Aston Villa in their campaign swansong, a week tomorrow, in a fixture that is largely irrelevant for the former team.

Keep up with the latest developments in the Premier League with