Archivo del Autor: Football And Stuff

FIFA Soccer 10 – Goal Scoring Tips

It is important to play the game FIFA Soccer 10 in an effective manner, and this can be done by following certain guidelines which will provide better opportunities to win the game. The ball should be in constant movement while making runs such that it gives better possession of the ball and facilitates accurate passing, thereby creating splendid scoring opportunities.

Making runs towards the opposite half is important, and ensuring there is always a player free enough to receive the ball is essential. Passing the ball to him can either cause a goal or an opportunity, since all it requires is a correct pass. However, it is best to lay-off the ball to a forward as they have a better probability for scoring, and a counter attack is expected while attacking continuously. For such situations, a good defense can be very helpful mainly because a good defense stops most opportunities. Dribbling and changing pace often confuses defenders, while counter attacking can be done in a flash with very little, but accurate passes.

Scoring forms the base of any soccer game, however there are some very important guidelines that can prove to be very useful for a player. Attacking implies that the player should be brought as close to the goal as possible so that the pressure is reduced and efficiency is ensured. Long-range shots are really tempting, but do not always make a goal and hence it is best to make use of a formation employing 2 strikers. Using a lone striker is never as effective as using 2 strikers, as with 2 strikers, a 1-2 pass (wall pass) can be easily made and it may result in easy goals. For goal scoring opportunities, the lobbed pass is the best option, and a lobbed ball is hard to block or intercept. If there is a player in the correct position, a lobbed ball can work out wonders, ensuring fruitful breakaways.

Shoot button is meant for tapping, not for pressing down as it gives lots of accurate and fast shots on target. Fast strikers are the best sources for goals, and are available with top clubs such as Manchester United, Inter Milan, FC Barcelona, etc. These strikers have better shots, accuracy and speed, yet while attacking the defense of the opponent careful observation is expected. Every defense has flaws in it, and the best tactic is to exploit them to the maximum extent.

Goalkeepers at times make mistakes, and having a striker close to the goalkeeper can be useful in situations like this. FIFA 10 features three different strikes, the finesse, normal and chip such that a chip is suited for a charging keeper. Conceding a goal is not a big worry as the best time to attack is mostly after conceding. The opponent players become drained after scoring that it takes some time for them to get back. During this short gap, scoring a goal can have a zapping effect on the opponent`s morale.

Crosses are reliable sources of goals; all it takes is a nice pass and a player in the correct space. However, it is hard to defend against accurate crosses; hence delivering accurate crosses is a technique by itself. A winger, right or left, is the best person for delivering a cross while checking the radar, and the power to be given is one quarter for the near post, half for the middle and three quarters for the far post. Also make sure the ball curves away from the goalkeeper or he might just punch it away. Hold off the defender and as the ball reaches the striker, use a moderate level of energy as it provides an unstoppable goal.

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What Are the Qualities of a Football Team Striker?

Every team is like a useless pack of cards if there are no good strikers because you can’t win a match without scoring goals and you can’t score goals without having potent strikers. The question then is who is a striker? And what are the qualities of a good striker?

A striker is a football player whose responsibility is to score goals. This simply means that if a striker cannot score goals then he should not be in the team in the first place.

Now, let’s look at the qualities of a good striker or forward. A good striker should have a clear vision just like a good goalkeeper. A good striker should be able to convert any chance to a goal. But he cannot just take his chances if he cannot see very well.

A good striker should have speed. This is where counter attack comes into play. If the strikers in a team lack speed then counter attacks become useless. If you take a look at Spanish, Argentine and Brazilian national teams you will appreciate the value of speed to any striker. Spanish, Argentine and Brazilian teams are so good at counter attacks simply because they have strikers that can move with the ball so fast.

A good striker should have what I call «goal sense». This simply means that he or she should know when to use the head or leg. He or she should know when to tap in the ball. He or she should know when to pass the ball to another player that is better positioned to score the goal. He or she should also know when to be selfish with the ball.

A good striker should have inner strength, vigor, stamina, or energy. He or she should be able to surmount any kind of opposition once he or she is with the ball. Great strikers of our time such as Samuel Eto’o Fils of Cameroon and FC Barcelona of Spain, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast and Chelsea FC of England and Wayne Rooney of England and Manchester United of England are some graphic examples of strikers that have the much needed strength.

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John Obi Mikel – Comparing Him With Lionel Messi

John Obi Mikel of Nigeria and Lionel Messi of Argentina were both at the world youth championship (FIFA U-20) in Netherlands in 2005, where they both shone like a Million Stars, to the delight of soccer fans the world over.

Both players played as creative/attacking midfielders for their countries at the youth championship. Argentina eventually defeated Nigeria by 2-1 at the final to win the trophy; and Lionel Messi emerged the world’s best player, while John Obi Mikel was voted second best player at the U-20 level.

Five years after, the gulf between the two players has widened so much that one begins to wonder what has happened. The Argentine went to FC Barcelona thereafter and developed his skills further to the point of wining several domestic titles, 2 champions’ league titles, 1 club world cup, 1 Olympics gold medal, European footballer of the year, world footballer of the year, etc.

But the Nigerian made the mistake of his career by allowing his father to influence him in choosing to go to Chelsea FC of England. The only achievement he can boast of till date include a few FA cups, Carling cups and community shield cup. He just won his first league title with Chelsea this year.

What went wrong?

Lionel Messi carefully chose a club side that allowed him to develop further, and brought out the best in him. John Obi Mikel, on the other hand refused a bid from Manchester United that would have enabled him maintain his position as an attacking midfielder and develop his skills further. Instead, he chose to go to Chelsea FC because of the money involved. On getting to Chelsea, Coach Jose Maurinho turned him into a defensive midfielder, and his skills nosedived. During the period he has stayed in Chelsea, Man U has won 3 league titles, 1 club world cup, 1 champions’ league title, etc. Today, he regrets his decision: he would have won 3 league titles, 1 champions’ league, 1 club world cup, several FA cups and Carling cups by now with Man U. He would have also had the opportunity to shine better than he is doing right now and perhaps be close to Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi in terms of skill. But today, he is not in the top 50 players’ list. What an Irony!

In choosing a career, one should not consider only the monetary aspect; one should think of one’s opportunity to develop further, and when the place you intend to develop your career does not guarantee you that chance, you should look elsewhere.

Besides, you should not allow anybody to influence you when it comes to choosing your career. You know what you want; why don’t you go for that which would give you satisfaction? If you make any mistakes from the onset, you may end up regretting for life.

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An Introduction to Paris Saint Germain Football Club

Paris Saint Germain FC is the home team of the city of Paris and they are based in the Parc des Princes stadium close to Bois de Boulongne.

The spectacular stadium is the third largest in the country and it holds in the region of 45,000 spectators and was a staple venue for the 1998 World Cup when it was hosted by France.

About the club

The current Paris Saint Germain club has been around since 1970, although it was foundered (as Stade Saint Germain) way back in 1904. However, after a merger between FC Paris and Stade Saint Germain, the present day club was formed and its fortunes changed that same year when it went on to win the French second division title and gain promotion.

From that time to this it has remained in the premier French division and it has been one of the dominant forces in French football. To date, the nineteen nineties decade has seen the greatest period of prolonged success for Paris Saint Germain FC.

The first taste of success

Paris Saint Germain FC’s first prolific period of achievement covered the years from 1982 to 1986 during which time they achieved huge domestic success. They were Cup champions in both the 1982 and 1983 seasons and went on to be the League Champions for the 1985 to 1986 season.

This era saw the club chaired by Francis Borelli who took over the reigns in 1978 and retained them for thirteen seasons, finally departing in 1991. This era also saw some of the clubs greatest players, many of them household names in France, and they included the likes of Dominique Baratelli, Carlos Bianchi, Dominique Bathenay and Luis Fernandez.

Continued domestic success

The mid to late nineteen nineties probably proved the most successful and fruit full period in the clubs history and it saw the repeated filling of Paris Saint Germain FC’s trophy cabinet – at least on a domestic level.

This decade started off well with the club winning the French Cup in 1993 and in 1995 they achieved the double by claiming both the French Cup and the League Cup, a rare achievement.

Amazingly, a further double followed just three years later as 1998 saw them yet again take both the French Cup and League Cup titles and secure their dominance as France’s premier football team. During this mid to late nineteen nineties period the team boasted the names of Alain Roche, Ricardo Gomes, David Ginola and Bernard Lama to name but a few. The team also offered great pickings for the French National team in which many of Paris Saint Germain FC’s players were also stars.

International achievements,

The years of 1996 and 1997 saw Paris Saint Germain FC enjoying international success as they first won the European Cup Winners Cup In 1996 and then narrowly lost in the final the following year.

In 1996 they overcame Rapid Vienna 1-0, but the score line was reversed the following year in a close tussle against Spain’s FC Barcelona.

A new millennium for Paris Saint Germain FC

The start of the new millennium saw something of a slump, at least by the high standards of Paris Saint Germain FC, as titles initially eluded them.

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10 Reasons Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Are Not the Greatest of All Time [GOAT] in Football

For the best part of the last decade, two names have dominated world football (soccer) more than any others; Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. These great rivals have broken countless football records, scored insane number of goals and pushed each other all the way to greatness despite the fact that they are two very different football players, playing two very different styles in two very different roles for two different clubs. The only thing that really connects the two is the ocean of ability that separates them from the rest of the players in the world. There can be no question as to whether the duo belongs in the pantheon of football all-time greats anymore. Although any effort to determine the greatest footballer of all time is subject to generational bias, it should be noted that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not individually or collectively the greatest football player[s] of all time due to the following reasons;

Cristiano is not the best ‘Ronaldo’ to play the game: Despite his unparalleled achievement in and off the field of play, Cristiano Ronaldo is still not considered the best Ronaldo to have played the game. Ronaldo de Assisi (also known as Ronaldinho) and Ronaldo de Lima (the phenomenon) are the other ‘Ronaldos’ whose legendary attacking prowess is often compared to Cristiano Ronaldo’s. Ronaldo de Lima was a more explosive and complete striker who would have probably been the ‘World’s Best Striker Ever’ if he had stayed injury-free in his footballing career, while Ronaldinho was the entertainer who, at his peak, constantly wowed the footballing world. Cristiano Ronaldo is better than other ‘Ronaldos’ in terms of constituency over the years, phenomenal goal-scoring rates, overall fitness and prolonged career (due to low rate of injuries) but for sheer skill, explosiveness, superior technical ability, and the ‘wow’ factor, the two ‘Ronaldos’ are better than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lionel Messi is not the best ever Argentine player: It is a well-known fact that for a footballer to be the best ever in the world, he has to be the best ever footballer in his country and sadly, Lionel Messi isn’t both. Lionel Messi is not the best football player Argentina has produced. That honor goes to Diego Armando Maradona. Maradona (widely regarded as one of the best football players ever) is a footballing legend that inspired Argentina to a world cup victory and S.S.C. Napoli (in the Italian Football League) to its first and second League title [Scudetti] in its history. He is the scorer of the world’s most dubious goal (the ‘Hand of God’ goal) and the FIFA Goal of the Century. There is virtually a cult around the player in Argentina. Diego Maradona (and Pele) is the benchmark for the illustrious South American nation when a new star comes on to the block. So, while Messi has dazzled on the European stage, passing milestone after milestone and picking up loads of awards, his countrymen regard him as the country’s second best football player ever.

Both players have never won the World Cup: Although the latter rounds of the modern-day UEFA Champions League would rival the FIFA World Cup in terms of quality, with talents from around the globe increasingly concentrated in the hands of an elite few, the World Cup still retains substantial symbolic value as a quadrennial competition which pit the best of one nation against the best of another. It is no secret Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have never won (or inspired their respective countries to win) the FIFA World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo has won an European Cup (The Euros) with his home country, Portugal but has never been to the semi-finals or the finals of the World Cup while Lionel Messi was underwhelming in the 2014 world cup semi-final and final with his home country Argentina eventually losing to Germany. The World (and Messi) was shocked when he was named the best player and awarded the Golden Ball of the tournament. Lionel Messi is also a three-time runner-up in the Copa America competition with Argentina. Most football players such as Zinedine Zidane, Pele, Diego Maradonna, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo de Lima etc. often touted as the world’s best ever football player all played dominant roles in the World Cup tournament they eventually won. The same cannot be said presently of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

They are not Football’s best Goal-scorers ever: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are efficient, effective and phenomenal goal scorers boasting amazing goal per match ratio but they aren’t among the five best goal scorers in football history. Neither of them have scored up more than 700 goals in their respective careers so they cannot be in the company of great players such as Pele, Romario, Josef Bican, Ferenc Puskas (he has a FIFA goal-scoring award named after him), Gerd Muller. The rate of scoring of these legendary players is more impressive than that of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo given they ended their footballing careers with goal tallies well into the 800s. So if scoring goals are what makes footballers great, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, having better players boasting better goal tallies ahead of them, cannot be the greatest footballers of all time.

Both players have been accused of being criminals: They both have tax payment issues with the Spanish authorities (the country they reside and play in) and so have been accused of being criminals. After a lengthy trial that attracted so much publicity due to his status as a supremely gifted sportsman, Lionel Messi (and his father) was found guilty of not paying his taxes to the Spanish government, fined heavily and sentenced to two years in prison (he has since agreed to pay an increased fine rather than have a 21-month suspended prison sentence). His trial, guilty verdict, fine and (suspended) sentence damaged his credibility as a morally upright athlete who could do no wrong and that of his football club (FC Barcelona). Cristiano Ronaldo is also being investigated for tax evasion by the Spanish authorities, might be tried (or not), heavily fined and get a suspended prison sentence.

Their overall goal tallies are padded with too many penalties: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the greatest goal scorers of their generation. They score obscene number of goals in a football season but almost half of the total goals scored both players have come from the penalty spot. In football, penalties are the easiest way to score because it involves only the designated penalty-taker and a goal keeper to beat. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, being the designated penalty-takers of their respective club sides, always take every penalty kick awarded them or their teammates thereby increasing their goal tallies. In 2013/2014 Football season in England, Luis Suarez of Liverpool FC (before he moved to FC Barcelona to become a teammate of Lionel Messi) won the highest goal scorer award in the English Premier League and shared the European Golden Shoe award with Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring 32 goals in 33 games in open play without taking a single penalty. That is a record Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do not yet hold.

They play for football’s most valuable clubs: Messi and Ronaldo play for super-clubs in Spain where the top sides score goals by the hatful. The second millennium’s new financial order unfortunately gave birth to the modern super team essentially creating a certain form of predictability in both domestic and continental leagues. Lionel Messi plays for FC Barcelona in Spain while Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid CF also in Spain. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF are extremely rich and dominant football clubs that can afford to buy and stockpile the best and most expensive football talent anywhere in the world and so Messi and Ronaldo are always surrounded and assisted by world-class players to aid in dominating continental club football thus raising their international profiles. Both clubs always have a slew of world-class players at their disposal which leads to utter domination in domestic (Spanish La Liga) and continental (UEFA Champions League) football competitions.

The benefit of playing in the Modern Era: It is almost impossible to compare players of different era in a game that has changed so much over the years. Great footballers like Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo di Stefano played in an era when the game was played at a tempo unrecognizably slower than in the modern era. That does not make them less great than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The game played presently has changed because of changes in rules governing the game and the quality of footballs produced and used. Players in the modern era are also fitter, faster, and stronger than they have ever been, but players (especially defenders) are technically weaker than they have ever been. The Champions League’s expansions of the nineties is also an advantage to the modern player: having a group stage allows a margin of error that simply did not exist in the knock out style pre-1995 tournament. It has never been easier for attackers – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo probably would never score 40-60 goals a season in the 1980s when the rules governing the game and footballs used didn’t benefits attackers (strikers), and defenders/defenses were littered with world-class talents.

They are a part of football’s rich history: We view the history of the game through our own national experiences, or at least we did until the modern era, where we can watch the Spanish league, Messi and Ronaldo every weekend. It is worth remembering that in the 1970s and even into the 1980s, most of Europe just watched the European Cup and UEFA Cup games of their own national teams. So, here is a little suggestion; the next time Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo score a breath-taking goal and someone on Twitter suggests the debate (on the greatest football player) is over, head to YouTube and spend ten minutes watching goals from Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Pele, Ferenc Puskas, Roberto Baggio, Eusebio, Alfredo di Stefano and so on. There have been plenty of geniuses in the game, and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are part of that rich football history.

Generational and positional bias in football: The hunt for the greatest football player in history is like that of the Holy Grail. All footballers (sportsmen) are products of their time. Due to football’s developmental stagnation relative to other sport and because there are so many different positions, and so many roles within those positions, it is hard to have a worthwhile conversation about who the best football player of all time is. Since the main objective of the game is to score a goal, the best goal scorers such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will always be near the top of any list about the game’s best players.

Conclusion; Don’t kid yourself that there won’t be another player like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, no-one thought they would see another player like Diego Maradona.

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Soccer Jocks – Soccer Jocks of Professional Soccer

Soccer jocks are a common term associated to professional players who belong to the elite clubs of the sport. The word jock refers to male athletes who are considered as stars or very popular. The term is a stereotype most often distinguished with the following characteristics of a player:

  • A player who is in relationship with a beautiful and prominent woman.
  • A player who possess a muscular body.
  • A very popular figure in his chosen field of sport.
  • Admired and adored by many girls.
  • Among the best player in the team.
  • A player who have the most number of fans.

 In the sport soccer, there are some of the professional players who belong to the class of soccer jocks. David Beckham is one of these players who managed to succeed in his career as an athlete. Beckham is from England and had played for the Manchester United who is considered as an outstanding player and have proven his exemplary skills. He is considered an icon in the sport which made him very rich and famous.

Another one is Rafael Marquez from the Mexican national team who has started his career at the age of 17. He was able to impress many of his colleagues with his talent. When he joined FC Barcelona, he was able to contribute to the numerous success of the team.

These jocks of the sports will always be idolized by many of the soccer fans in the world. They also serve as an inspirational to aspiring players of the favorite game on earth.

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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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Draw With Villarreal Allows Madrid to Open Up Gap Ahead of Barcelona

FC Barcelona travelled down to Villarreal on Saturday night for week 21 of this season’s Spanish League. The «yellow submarines» as they are known to their fans are way down at the bottom of the table in the relegation zone and things have not been looking too good for them. Out of 19 matches played prior to meeting Barcelona they had won just four, with seven draws and eight losses.

In comparison, FC Barcelona had 13 wins, with five draws and just a single loss. Also take a look at the number of goals: just 18 for Villarreal compared with Barcelona’s 59. Therefore on paper, it should have been an easy win for Barcelona, whose morale should have been high after eliminating Real Madrid from the Copa del Rey during the week.

However, football isn’t about stats and it isn’t fought on paper; it’s what happens on the pitch that counts and in the event, there were few real chances to score. Villarreal’s goalkeeper seemed to be in good form when Barcelona were on target, and the defence of the yellow submarines was solid, so creating those opportunities was tough. The first half offered few opportunity for Barça, and while Villarreal did create several chances to attack the Barcelona goal nothing ultimately came of it.

When the teams came out of the second half Villarreal were looking slightly more urgent, but it was Barcelona who controlled the play. However, despite having high possession of the ball, they were unable to do anything with it that counted. It wasn’t really until the last ten minutes of the match that Barça had some good opportunities to score and it looked like they would take the three points. However, it just didn’t happen and the match ended goalless.

The result was disappointing for Barcelona, who were already trailing Real Madrid by five points. With Real Madrid winning their match on Saturday it now leaves Barcelona seven points behind and it’s starting to look as if la liga is out of their reach. While theoretically they aren’t out of the race, it’ll take some poor results from Madrid to turn that around for them. It remains to be seen whether misfortune will strike Madrid so hard. While their first match against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey quarter final was won comfortably by Barcelona, the return leg was nowhere near so close and in fact Barcelona was lucky to draw 2-2 and qualify; now that they are out of contention for the Copa del Rey, Madrid’s focus can remain on the domestic and European trophies.

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Transfer News From Barcelona

Unlike their bitter rivals, FC Barcelona entered the summer months quietly. Barca coach, Josep Guardiola, pinpointed the following players:

Franck Ribery

Ever since January, the French winger was considered as priority number 1 for the Catalan club but up until few weeks there weren’t any formal offers. In March, Bayern Munich’s winger went public and expressed his desire for a change of scenery and his statements were considered as a certain sign of player leaving. Things changed significantly once Perez took power in Madrid and appointed Zinedine Zidane as his advisor. The latter is seen as key figure in bringing Ribery closer to Madrid and away from Barcelona.

Javier Mascherano

Argentinian international is the 2nd choice of Pep Guardiola for strengthening the midfield. Reportedly, hard working Liverpool’s player hasn’t settled well in England and would welcome a move to Spain. Main reason for signing Mascherano is seen in African Cup of Nations that takes place this winter and during which Barcelona will have to cope without 2 of their important players: Keita and Yaya Toure.

David Villa

28 year old striker is considered as direct replacement for Samuel Eto. The Cameroonian is set to leave Camp Nou following the differences with FC Barcelona manager. The technical staff sees Villa as the best man to fit the Barca system as he proved to click well with Barcelona’s internationals who also play for Spain: Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and Pique.

Although it’s still a long way before the transfer window closes, the clubs are looking to complete their squads before the beginning of pre-season matches.

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FC Barcelona Players – Alexander Hleb

Alexander Hleb is, of course, well-known amongst UK football followers because of his time at Arsenal, during which time Sky pundit Andy Gray described him as one of the Premier league’s ‘most skillful players’. Born in Minsk in Belarus in 1981, Hleb, whose brother is also an international footballer, initially made his name in the Bundesliga with FC Stuttgart, whom he joined from his first club, FC Bate Borisov, at the age of nineteen, with whom he had just won the Belarus national league. Arsenal were signing a player who had already made 172 first team appearances for Stuttgart, scoring 19 goals in total.

By the time Hleb joined Arsenal in 2005 he had already been voted Belarusian player of the year three times – he has added two more awards since then – and he became respected at Arsenal because of his versatility, energy and ability to fit into the team’s smooth passing style of play. In his first season in North London, Hleb started 40 league games and scored 3 goals – figures that he repeated the following season.

It was during season 2007/08 that rumours started to link Hleb with a move to Barcelona; stories that gathered momentum after a particularly impressive performance against AC Milan in the Champions’ League. The ‘will he, won’t he’ saga kept the press occupied until July when the player signed for Barca in a deal reported to be worth about £11.8 million. During his time at Arsenal, Hleb made a total of 130 appearances, scoring 11 goals.

Alexander Hleb hardly made the most promising start to his career with his new club – picking up a series of injuries during pre-season which disrupted his progress considerably. Towards the end of the year, however, he was beginning to become a regular in the squad and to show signs of being able to integrate with the nimble, quick passing midfielders already at the club.

Internationally, Hleb made his debut appearance as a substitute in a defeat against Wales in 2001. His full debut followed, along with his first international goal, against Hungary the following April and he has been a regular in the team since then – captaining the side since August, 2007.

It is easy to see why Barcelona signed Alexander Hleb; he fits into their mould of being skillful, adaptable and pacy – with the ability to chip in with the occasional goal and, overall, an acute positional sense and an awareness of the runs of forward players. He should make a valuable addition to the squad – and his wife certainly should make an impact on the local media; in August, 2008 Alexander married Anastasia, a Topless singer. To be precise, Anastasia Kosenkova was a member of the Belarusian girl band, Topless.

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