Brazil And Italy Conjure Up A Majestic Contest

21 03 2013

It might be nine games and 16 months since Italy last won a friendly but Cesare Prandelli will be proud of the spirit the Azzurri showed to turn a two goal deficit into a draw against the much fancied Brazil.

Italy are notorious for their nonchalant attitude towards friendlies, an opportunity to test new players and tactics but no reason to arduously seek a good result, but this performance will put them in good stead for their World Cup qualifier against Malta next week.

In these non-competitive games we have become accustomed to witnessing dour contests lacking both intensity and personality, however the match in Geneva showcased two teams with World Cup winning ambitions, and both will gain confidence from proceedings.

Mario Balotelli and Neymar exchange shirts after the friendly in Switzerland.

Mario Balotelli and Neymar exchange shirts after the friendly in Switzerland.

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Alejandro Grimaldo – The Latest Spanish Gem

24 05 2012

La Masia churns out talented individuals on an annual basis, but there is a sense of eagerness when the name Alejandro Grimaldo crops up in Catalonia. The left-back spot has not been a particular position of strength for the Cantera over the past decade, with players like Carles Planas, Oscar Lopez and even Fernando Navarro – despite enjoying remote success once leaving – failing to establish themselves amongst the senior ranks. Since Sergi Barjuán broke through at the start of the 1990’s, the Nou Camp has not had anyone to get excited about down the left flank, with Marc Muniesa being the most recent canterano, but he has a preference to play centrally. Despite this, the emergence of Grimaldo gives Culés hope that they have identified the left-sided Dani Alves.

Grimaldo was signed as a 13-year-old from Valencia in 2008, where he played for Los Che as a left winger wearing the number 10 shirt. His progression has been rapid and he is part of a select group of superstars who are progressing at Barcelona at the moment. Some of his teammates over the past few years have included current Arsenal pair Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin as well as Juventus defender Pol Garcia. The ‘1995 generation’ has swept everything before them at ‘Juvenil’ level including the Nike Premier Cup in Manchester.

Alejandro Grimaldo – The Latest Gem At La Masia

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From Pedrito To Pedro

10 06 2011

They say nice guys don’t get anywhere, but Pedro Rodriguez Ledesma must be the exception. The forward is consistently praised for his down to earth persona, somebody who would rather pass on the praise to his star-studded team-mates and while Gerard Pique and Carlos Marchena wanted to be sexually inactive during the World Cup, Pedro had other ideas “[I’ll have] Sex for sure because my girlfriend is here. I hope to have some free time soon.”

You would refer to him as a normal guy. He is not flashy, is not covered in tattoos and tries to avoid the public attention. His favourite pastimes are hiking and snorkelling. He thanks his brother Jonathan for getting him into football and how he learned from playing against him and his older friends. His nature is thanks to the traits his family instilled in him. “I come from a family of hard-working people. My parents told me: Pay attention and you’ll learn. Putting desire into something I like is easy. I saw my parents labour to pull us through, so I’m fortunate to have this as a job.”

The 23-year-old from Santa Cruz on the island of Tenerife has had a meteoric rise in the past few years from being a B team player to starting a World Cup final and becoming the only player to score in six different tournaments in a calendar year in 2009. Here is his team-mate Pique’s evaluation on his development “He has shown how much he can do in the last two years, though it took him a while to get going in the first year. The last two years have been something to see. Everything he has touched has gone in. He’s always on the lookout and at key moments he is always there.”

However his path to the four-time European champions was something of an accident.

Pedro Rodriguez has become an important player for Barcelona.

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How Do Manchester United Beat Barcelona?

24 05 2011

Saturday is a chance for redemption for Sir Alex Ferguson. Two years ago on that fateful night in Rome, Manchester United succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in a final which has been privately exasperating the manager. Barcelona overran the Red Devils in the centre of the pitch and it has been said that Michael Carrick is only just starting to rediscover that consistency which vacated him after that game.

United come into this match after a title-winning campaign brandished as lacking ‘fantasy’, but perhaps that will put them in good stead against a team who have it in abundance. Trying to play Barça at their own game will generally result in defeat, but with dogged determination, team full of energy and a potent striker, United have a great chance of reversing the disappointment from 2009.

Despite claims that we might be witnessing one of the greatest teams ever in the Catalans, they still have their flaws, and Ferguson knows if he can exploit them and more importantly take their chances, then United are one of the best teams to sit back and play on the counter-attack when protecting a lead.

Busquets Needs To Be Prevented From Playing

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