How Martinez is solving Hazard-De Bruyne conundrum

first_imgWorld Cup How Martinez is solving Belgium’s Hazard & De Bruyne conundrum Peter Staunton Click here to see more stories from this author Chief Correspondent 21:30 5/18/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Eden Hazard Kevin De Bruyne Belgium Getty Images World Cup Eden Hazard Kevin De Bruyne Belgium v Portugal Belgium v Egypt Belgium v Costa Rica Belgium v Panama Belgium v Tunisia England v Belgium Southampton v Manchester City Newcastle United v Chelsea Tunisia Panama Portugal Belgium Egypt Costa Rica England Southampton Manchester City Chelsea Newcastle United Friendlies Premier League Opinion The Spaniard has signed a contract extension until 2020 and his ability to coax performances from his star duo has been key to productive Belgian form Roberto Martinez has renewed his Belgium contract and will coach the Red Devils for another two years at least. He will be in charge for the World Cup this summer and will also provide continuity through the upcoming UEFA Nations League and into the next cycle of qualifiers for Euro 2020.Belgium’s golden generation are right at the peak of their powers and should be able to play somewhere close to their potential at this tournament and the next. Their ages are right and their form is good – both for the national team and their clubs.Belgium’s great hopes for the Brazilian World Cup of 2014 were dashed by Argentina at the quarter-final stage but even up to that point, there was a lack of fluency in what should have been a more cohesive unit. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now Similarly, they met their end at Euro 2016 against a Wales side that they should have swept aside. Gareth Bale apart, the Welsh did not have a player equal to their Belgian counterparts but a coherent tactical structure – allied to a genuine pride in the shirt – carried the day for the Dragons.Marc Wilmots took plenty of criticism and fell on his sword for failing to get the best from his team on a consistent basis. There was lethargy and a sense in the stands that players this good ought to be scoring more goals and providing more entertainment.Chief among Wilmots’ issues was a failure to get the best of both Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne in the same team. Both are playmakers, both are deserving of their star status but national teams down throughout history have been plagued by this kind of problem: how to fit two extremely gifted schemers into the same line-up and also ensuring that they hit their marks.That was something Martinez knew he would inherit from his predecessor. Back then – hard to believe it’s less than two years ago – De Bruyne was still somewhat unsure his best position for club and country.He played for Wolfsburg and Manchester City at wide left, wide right and in the centre of a three-man support line behind the forward. And anyone sketching a Belgium XI would probably have put De Bruyne in one of those positions too.Martinez, though, made a change that would not only benefit the national team – as the goals started to flow and excellent form was coaxed from both De Bruyne and Hazard – but would also help improve Manchester City into the bargain.Eden Hazard Roberto Martinez BelgiumIn a qualifier against Estonia in November 2016, Martinez opted to put De Bruyne in his now familiar position at the centre of midfield and ceded the more attacking slot to Hazard. The rationale was that De Bruyne had the technical ability, the awareness and the lungs to influence a game over long periods from the centre of the field.Martinez discovered quickly that while the temptation in the early days existed to play De Bruyne and Hazard either side of a striker – or at least alongside each other in behind – it would benefit everyone most if they played in different lines of the attack.Both were usually the main targets for passes from midfielders and given their characteristics, they were bound to end up competing for the same kind of balls. By moving one further back, Martinez solved that issue. It would be more productive for the team if one was feeding the other and De Bruyne got the nod at the deeper position.Kevin De Bruyne BelgiumPep Guardiola admits that he began to play De Bruyne alongside David Silva in those twin ‘No. 8’ positions partly on the strength of his performance there for the national team. The night he first featured there they won 8-1. And it may have been ‘only’ Estonia but that’s where De Bruyne began to acquire the stature of a world-class centre-midfielder.Hazard, meanwhile, was enduring a tough 2016-17 season up to around that point. Chelsea under Antonio Conte were struggling and had lost heavily 3-0 to Arsenal before the Italian tried something drastic. While the 3-4-3 he settled upon for the 2-0 win at Hull the following week has been interpreted as a way to improve the defending, it could be argued that it was that tactical switch which finally got the best out of Hazard.It was something attempted by Martinez in his first competitive game in charge. He had watched his Belgium team get booed off in his first friendly – against Spain in Brussels – and endured a disappointing 2-0 defeat. He set them up in a 4-2-3-1 that night with Hazard wide on the left. It didn’t bear fruit.Eden Hazard BelgiumBy the time the Cyprus game rolled around, Martinez was ready for something new. In came a 3-4-2-1 which would give Belgium more control of the midfield but also freed up Hazard.Playing him wide – in front of a wing-back – became a feature of Chelsea’s Premier League title-winning team. And it is in those positions that De Bruyne and Hazard are best deployed. There are still issues to solve of course with De Bruyne pointing out publicly that work still needs to be done. Despite injuries to both at various intervals during the qualification period – indeed they missed the hard-fought 1-1 home draw against Greece – Belgium emerged from their group with nine wins out of 10 and were joint-top scorers in Europe alongside World Cup holders Germany. Romelu Lukaku weighed in with 11 goals and Hazard got six of his own.Belgium managed to tap into their attacking weaponry and look a good bet for progress beyond the quarter-finals in Russia. For that, they can thank primarily the outstanding crop of talents but they can also acknowledge the astute analytical eye of their coach.last_img read more

Luiz backs Salah for Ballon d’Or

first_imgMohamed Salah Salah can win Ballon d’Or with Champions League triumph, says Luiz Joe Wright 21:30 5/25/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(2) Mohamed Salah Real Madrid v Liverpool Real Madrid Liverpool Chelsea UEFA Champions League David Luiz Videos The Brazilian defender thinks his former Chelsea team-mate is on track to challenge for the Ballon d’Or as he aims to fire Liverpool to European glory Mohamed Salah has a good chance of winning the Ballon d’Or if he helps Liverpool triumph in the Champions League final, according to Chelsea defender David Luiz.The Egypt international has scored 44 goals in a memorable first season under Jurgen Klopp and has been tipped to challenge Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s 10-year dominance of the game’s top individual award.Luiz sees no reason why Salah cannot stake a claim for the prize if he can get his hands on the Champions League trophy – Liverpool meet Real Madrid in Kiev on Saturday – and produce the goods at the World Cup next month. Editors’ Picks Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now When asked if he sees his old team-mate as a Ballon d’Or winner, he told Omnisport : “I don’t know, it depends on the year, depends on things.”He did an amazing year in England already. He has the opportunity to do amazing in Europe with the Champions League and he has the opportunity to play the World Cup, so why not? I think if he does well now in the Champions League and then also in the World Cup, why not?”Salah struggled to make an impact during his time at Chelsea and was sold to Roma in 2016 after successful loan spells with the Giallorossi and Fiorentina in Serie A.It was there that the 25-year-old began to develop into a top-class forward, prompting Liverpool to sign him last year for a fee that could rise to £37 million (€42m/$50m) , a club record before deals were struck for Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita.Luiz thinks highly of Salah as a professional and is confident his best years are yet to come.”He’s a fantastic person, fantastic professional,” he said. “He has top quality. Every year he was improving, improving, improving. He was working hard for that. I’m so happy for him because he deserves this moment.”It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. The other day I had the opportunity to talk to him again, I said ‘just enjoy the opportunity’, because it’s just the beginning, he’s doing amazing and the right way. I’m happy for him because he deserves it.”Fastest speeds registered this season Kph33.8 MOHAMED SALAH 33.5 Marcus Rashford33.3 Kyle Walker33.3 Ousmane Dembélé33.1 Kostas Manolas #UCLfinal — #UCLfinal (@ChampionsLeague) May 25, 2018 Luiz, a Champions League winner in 2012, is expecting an “amazing” final when Liverpool take on Madrid.”It was one of my highest moments in football,” he recalled. “It was great, especially in the condition I was playing in that final. I was injured for three or four weeks, thinking I was not going to play, then arrived the moment and we won.”It was hard to play against Bayern in Munich and then I had the pleasure to touch the trophy and be a winner of the Champions League, it was great.”[Roberto] Firmino is my great friend, also Salah and [Sadio] Mane, they are doing amazing. It’s going to be an amazing Champions League final, both teams deserve to be there and I just want to sit on the sofa and watch this game.”David Luiz was speaking at the unveiling of the Hublot Champions’ Advice campaign. Hublot are the Official Timekeeper of the FIFA World Cup 2018.last_img read more

‘Chelsea-target Sarri is not a world-class coach’

first_imgChelsea ‘Sarri is a great coach, but not a world-class one’ – Dalla Bona questions Italian’s Chelsea credentials Nizaar Kinsella Click here to see more stories from this author Chelsea correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 15:00 5/25/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Maurizio Sarri Napoli Getty Images Chelsea Antonio Conte Carlo Ancelotti Napoli Premier League Serie A Transfers The former Blues star is concerned about his former coach moving to Stamford Bridge, believing he may not adapt well to the English game Former Chelsea and Napoli star Samuele Dalla Bona has questioned whether Maurizio Sarri will fit in as well at Chelsea as Antonio Conte.The departure of Conte from Chelsea is thought to be coming imminently, with former Napoli boss Sarri in talks to take over as manager of the FA Cup-winning club.Dalla Bona played 73 times for Chelsea and then helped Napoli get promoted to Serie A as they were forced to climb the divisions after bankruptcy in 2004. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now The 37-year-old was impressed by Sarri’s style of football at Napoli, but ultimately the Partenopei were unable to break through and win a trophy during his three seasons in charge.”[Sarri] played great football all of the time,” Dalla Bona told Goal. “[Napoli] had a good system but Juventus were able to play a worse style but still win every year.”I think Sarri needs to make that last step to be a champion and a top coach. He is a great coach but he is not a world class-coach because he hasn’t won anything – that means he isn’t at the top.”I like to see a good style of football but in the end, if you don’t win but play good football, it doesn’t mean a lot. Juventus don’t play good but win all the time. I knew when Conte was going to Chelsea. I was sure that Conte is a winner and, in fact, he has won two titles and proved it already: the league and FA Cup.Dalla Bona does not believe Sarri is a natural fit at Chelsea and has questioned whether the environment in London will be conducive to his success. “If Sarri goes to Chelsea, he hasn’t won anything despite being a good manager. He needs to start winning something,” Dalla Bona said. “I don’t know if he will do it in Chelsea. It is a difficult club to go to right now, even under Roman Abramovich. I think it is difficult for Italians to adapt because you don’t speak the language perfectly.”For Sarri, at around 60 years old going to London, a change of environment, he speaks a little bit of English but I don’t know if it will be an easy move for him.”I am not sure about him, I know he is a good manager but I don’t know if he is a good fit for Chelsea. Probably they will ask him to not smoke at Stamford Bridge or Cobham too!”I had the good fortune of adapting well from Italy to London. I preferred London and English football actually, so it can be done. However, I am not as sure about Sarri at Chelsea. I was more sure about Conte coming to Chelsea because every year he wins something. He had shown the whole world he is a winner already, Sarri hasn’t.”Sarri led Napoli to a club-record 91 points in Serie A in 2017-18, but it wasn’t enough to win the Scudetto as Juventus got 95 points to win their seventh title in a row.Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis has since announced that Carlo Ancelotti will manage the club next season.Dalla Bona thinks that Ancelotti is a great appointment by his former club and a statement that they will fight to win the title again next season.”It has been a real shock because I didn’t expect that De Laurentiis could get Ancelotti,” Dalla Bona added. “Sarri has been in Naples for three years doing very good work but football is strange. I think De Laurentiis knows that now is a time to try and win something so he took one of the top managers in the world.Ancelotti De Laurentiis Napoli“De Laurentiis is giving them a great story. He took them from Serie C and now they are always second in the league. For me, it has been great to be part of the story, to win Serie B and score a few goals and then football changes very quickly. I think De Laurentiis needs to be supported because he is trying his best to make the club into a winning team.”It was unbelievable that they didn’t win the Scudetto. It is only because Juventus is an incredible team. I thought Napoli could win it but in the end it was unbelievable that Juventus won it again. Juve are also a special team. Napoli taking Ancelotti shows Serie A that they really are ready to win something.”last_img read more

Neuer makes Germany return but weather delays kick-off

first_imgManuel Neuer Neuer finally makes Germany comeback but bad weather delays kick-off Jamie Smith Last updated 1 year ago 00:16 6/3/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Manuel Neuer Getty Images Austria v Germany Germany v Mexico Germany v Sweden South Korea v Germany Friendlies Germany World Cup The Bayern Munich goalkeeper has been out of action since September with a foot injury, but will make his return in Saturday’s friendly Manuel Neuer will make his long-awaited return from injury on Saturday after being named in Germany’s team to play Austria in a pre-World Cup friendly.Bayern Munich goalkeeper Neuer has been out of action since September due to a foot injury, putting his World Cup place in doubt.TEAM NEWS @Manuel_Neuer makes his Germany return in today’s friendly vs. @oefb1904 #DieMannschaft #ZSMMN #AUTGER— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 2, 2018However, Germany’s goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke said prior to the game that Neuer would face Austria and national boss Joachim Low has selected the 32-year-old to start in Klagenfurt. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now Neuer’s chances of going to the World Cup as Low’s first choice goalkeeper appeared to be boosted after he was handed the number one shirt when Die Mannschaft’s squad numbers were confirmed.Nils Petersen will make his international debut in the fixture, while Premier League stars Mesut Ozil, Leroy Sane and Antonio Rudiger are also included in the XI. Neuer and Co. have been made to wait even longer for the game to begin, however, as bad weather forced kick-off to be moved from 18:00 CEST to 18:35 initially, before a further delay occurred.Germany complete their preparations for the tournament with a friendly against Saudi Arabia in Leverkusen on June 8.last_img read more

‘One of the world’s best’ – Balotelli urged to join Marseille

first_imgTransfers He’s one of the world’s best – Thauvin urges Balotelli to join Marseille Ryan Benson Last updated 1 year ago 20:17 6/8/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) balotelli-cropped Getty Images Transfers Ligue 1 Olympique Marseille v Nice Nice Olympique Marseille Mario Balotelli The striker looks set to leave Nice this summer and he has been urged to move within Ligue 1, instead of returning to Italy Florian Thauvin is excited by the prospect of playing with “one of the best in the world” in Mario Balotelli and urged the Italian to join him at Marseille.After a difficult couple of years at Liverpool and AC Milan, Balotelli surprised many by joining Ligue 1 side Nice ahead of the 2016-17 season.In France, Balotelli has gone some way to rediscovering his best form, scoring 33 times across two Ligue 1 seasons and he looks set to move on once again, with his contract about to expire. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now Arsenal would be selling their soul with Mourinho move Although Balotelli is expected to return to Serie A, Marseille coach Rudi Garcia expressed his admiration for the striker at the end of May and Thauvin has echoed his manager’s words.”I spoke for a few seconds with Mario Balotelli during half time against Italy,” Thauvin told reporters.”Of course, it would be a pleasure if Mario Balotelli joins us at Marseille. He is a really great striker.”For me, he is one of the best in the world when he is at his best. Of course, it would be a pleasure to have him with us at Marseille and we are waiting for him.”last_img read more

Apply Now For A Local Sporting Champions Grant

first_imgAre you, or do you know, a dedicated young athlete, coach or official participating in a state or national sporting championships? Are you aged 12-18 years old travelling further than 250 kilometre return for a state or national championships?If yes, then you or your team could be eligible for a Local Sporting Champions grant to help meet costs such as uniforms, travel, accommodation and equipment.Grants of $500 per individual and $3,000 per team are available for young people participating in a nominated National Sporting Organisation-endorsed state or national sporting championships or a School Sport Australia national championship.This program is an Australian Government initiative managed by the Australian Sports Commission and supports 8,000 young people each year.The grants are designed to help athletes, coaches and officials achieve their sporting goals and are distributed across all 150 federal electorates of the national parliament.Applications are open, so apply now!Applications must be submitted prior to the commencement of the nominated championships.For further information, including application forms and eligibility criteria, go to: read more

6 recovery tips that elite touch players use

first_imgSimple post-workout habits that’ll help you come back stronger in your next workout, thanks to Karley Banks, assistant coach for the Men’s 20s team at the 2018 Youth World Cup1. Make sure you post-hydrate. It’s not just about hydrating during exercise. If you’ve exercised in the heat and sweated a lot, you may benefit from consuming electrolytes, not just water. The best bet is a low-calorie drink that contains electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium.2. Warm down. An active rather than static recovery is best – a light jog including replicating a few game movements at a very reduced level. Then go through major muscle group stretching exercises for a simple and fast way to help your muscles recover.3. Get on the roller therapy train. Self-massaging with foam rollers, bands and balls helps reduce muscle soreness and allows tissues and muscles to repair, regenerate and recover. Of course if you can have one, a full body massage can also aid recovery.4. Try water therapy. After a particularly hard session is when ice baths, pool sessions or contrast water therapy (alternating hot and cold showers) can benefit to help you recover faster, reduce muscle soreness and prevent injury.5. Eat right. Post-workout, you must refuel your body with high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates to recover, repair tissue, get stronger and be ready for your next session. Popular options: wholegrain toast with hummus; yoghurt with muesli; a protein shake and banana.6. Wear compression garments afterwards. Even if you didn’t wear compression gear during the workout, wearing them after can reduce muscle swelling and fatigue.last_img read more