Mathieu Debuchy: Good move for Newcastle?

Mathieu Debuchy’s seemingly imminent move from Lille will give Newcastle a timely boost after a stuttering first half of the season. With the defence leaking 11 goals in their last 2 games, it is clear that reinforcements are needed.

The Frenchman is an attack minded full back but has impressive defensive skills. His performance against England at Euro 2012 was a reminder of this with his energy and link up in attack and his solid defence skills clearly noticeable. Compared to last season where Debuchy was outstanding, he has not quite hit the heights this time around which serves as a perfect opportunity for the Magpies to take the man that they so eagerly pursued in the summer for a knockdown price. Alan Pardew and Newcastle will be more than aware of the saying – “Form is temporary but class is permanent”.

Debuchy’s move may well spell the beginning of the end for current right-back Danny Simpson whose contract runs out the end of the season. If Simpson runs out the remainder of his contract, or even signs a new deal, then Debuchy will provide welcome competition for places and also will offer a different option to Simpson.

Where as Simpson bases his game on staying solid defensively and whipping in crosses as soon as possible, Debuchy will try to link up with Ben Arfa, or whoever is playing on the right, and get beyond his opposite number. With the extra games in the form of the Europa League and injuries mounting, as they so often do at this time of the season, Debuchy’s arrival is more than welcome.

This signing isn’t quite typical compared with others made by Newcastle in recent years, due to the age of Mathieu Debuchy. With the Frenchman turning 28 in July, there is little chance that Debuchy will have much, if any, sell-on value at all. The preferred transfer methods of Newcastle recently is to buy young players who have a lot of potential in order to make a profit from them in case a scenario arrives where they want to move on or need to be sold.

Having said that, when a player of this quality becomes available at a price of around £5 million, having little or no sell-on potential definitely shouldn’t prohibit a move, which could be so good for the club.

To shore up a defence that has been so weak in recent weeks, Newcastle need to bring in a centre-back as well as Mathieu Debuchy. With Steven Taylor injured and Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini out of form for the majority of this season, it could be crucial that another centre-back is bought to pull the club up the table.

If Mathieu Debuchy is signed and added to Newcastle’s growing French contingent, however, it will be a significant lift and will show how they mean to go on in January.

 

Written by Will Robson

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Safe Standing Zones: A Must-Do To Rejuvenate British Football

Part of the reason that football in England is heralded as the best in the world is because of the unique atmosphere. The FA is threatening this. Their unwillingness to try something new and not just abide by the rules is wearing thin not just with me, but many others.

There would be no question about standing at a match nowadays if it hadn’t been for the fateful events at Hillsborough in 1989. Since then, there has been paranoia about standing up at football grounds.

The Taylor Report of 1989 recommended that all top flight clubs in England and Scotland switch their stadiums from terracing to all seaters. Clubs acted fast and subsequently millions of pounds have been spent doing just this.

Yet the passion still burns strong. One only had to be at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium on the 29th December, where Stoke took on Southampton to see and hear this. The Britannia, well known for its daunting atmosphere, was left stunned as Southampton raced into a somewhat fortuitous 3-1 lead.

At 3:45 pm, the cheers rang out from one corner of the ground as the Southampton faithful voiced their support for their team in its changed yellow strip. Come five o’clock, the Stoke fans were making the most noise as their team completed a superb comeback following Cameron Jerome’s 89th minute screamer. Yet the Southampton following still proudly applauded their team off, with them coming so close to breaking Stoke’s 16 match unbeaten home run, which stretches back to their defeat at the hands of Sunderland in early February 2012.

It has become somewhat of a tradition since all seater stadiums were first introduced that away fans have distinguished themselves by standing throughout the match. In my opinion, this makes for a better atmosphere with away fans attempting to give their side as much support as possible as they battle against a home team, sometimes with over 70 000 home fans urging their own team to win.

If there is enough support for it, the FA no longer has an excuse for not even trialing the safe standing zones. The model is in place in Germany. Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park is a prime example. For any visiting team, if the 80 000 capacity wasn’t imposing enough, to be greeted behind one goal by 25 000 people all crammed into a standing area is enough to make even the most seasoned professional quake in his boots. This is what British football has lacked since 1989.

The famous Anfield Kop no longer has such a big effect on visiting teams. Without being disrespectful to Aston Villa, it would have been unheard of for a team with the quality that Villa possess to take a 3-0 lead at Anfield as they did earlier this month, with the fortress that Anfield was in years gone by. It’s not just the lack of world class players that has contributed to the demise of a team that regularly competed for and won the title.

The atmosphere at Anfield when they played Aston Villa shocked me. I had heard that the buzz of a match day had somewhat diminished since Liverpool had fallen away from challenging for the title, but instead of the home team dominating the atmosphere, it was the Villa fans who made it sound like they were the home team. The Villa players fed off this and played some brilliant football on their way to beating the Merseyside team 3-1.

At times in the second half, Steven Gerrard seemed to be the only Liverpool player trying to salvage something from the match. But with most of the support being generated by the away fans, the Liverpool team looked lost as they struggled to find any motivation.

At St. Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, the setup of the home fans is simple. The Chapel Stand behind one goal is the family stand. It is 100% made up of Southampton fans and standing is not permitted. It may not be the loudest but it’s a place where families can go with younger children to watch a high quality game of football without parents having to overly worry about hooliganism. Behind the other goal, is the Northam End.

This stand is split into two, with away fans occupying the easterly half and the loudest section of home fans occupying the westerly half. The home fans here always stand up, leading to a better atmosphere in the ground with the home and away fans competing to make themselves heard. To the east is the Itchen Stand, which is exclusively for Southampton supporters.

Here is where the executive boxes and changing rooms are found, with the players’ tunnel located on halfway. The home fans seated next to the away supporters also join with the home section of the Northam End to create a hostile atmosphere for the away supporters and get behind their own team.

To the west is the Kingsland Stand, which is again made up of 100% Southampton fans. The stand is predominantly seated throughout the match, but has been known on occasions to create a hostile atmosphere for visiting teams.

With fantastic views in all parts of the ground, St. Mary’s really is a wonderful facility where over 32 000 fans can watch some magnificent football being played. It also provides another example to the FA of how standing areas in British football can work.

I fully support the campaign for safe standing areas in British grounds. I feel it will bring back the buzz to stadiums, such as Anfield, where it is has gone missing. And there are fantastic facilities, such as Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, which have always lacked match day magic. Only on cold European nights does the Emirates really show what kind of atmosphere it could facilitate every Saturday.

It is clear that the noise fans generate does have a massive effect on the way players play and their commitment. Whether they’re prepared to go in for that 50/50 with the opposition’s imposing centre-back, or whether they want to put their neck on the line to compete in the air with the opposition goalkeeper to try and create a goal out of nothing.

To take British football back to its glory days, safe standing zones are a must.

 

Written by Ben Higlett

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Demba Ba: Should Chelsea go for him?

Due to the departure of Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool, Chelsea currently only have one striker, that being Fernando Torres, so the Blues need a new one. Now, it looks like the new man will be Demba Ba from Newcastle for £7 million.

So what does this mean for Chelsea? Well, at 27, Ba is a fair bit older than other recent Chelsea signings who are closer to 19 than 27, so this is very much a “here and now” signing. The deal, to me, strongly resembles the £15 million deal which brought journeyman striker Nicholas Anelka to Chelsea from Bolton in January 2008.

Proven centre forward moving to Chelsea at a time when the London club are chasing the title and suffering from a shortage of strikers. Although Ba and Anelka are different players, Anelka did just fine at Chelsea and didn’t take much time in settling in.

Ba has had a tremendous season so far, having scored an impressive 13 goals in all competitions. He proved just how talented and well-rounded he is on Saturday with two goals against Arsenal (one of which may be given as an own goal by Jack Wilshere).

The Senegalese striker is always a threat, being able to score with his head as well as with his feet. He is often on the end of long distance passes and crosses, so he is always a menace for opposition defences. Ba will receive plenty of the ball from the likes of Oscar, Hazard, Moses and Mata, probably more than what he received from the likes of Simpson, Obertan, Cabaye and Ben Arfa at Newcastle.

His almost two years of Premier League experience (the first six months of which were spent with West Ham before they got relegated) will mean Ba shouldn’t face any “settling in” issues. To be honest, I see no real reason why Ba shouldn’t score goals in the blue of Chelsea.

So does the sale of Daniel Sturridge for £12 million and the signing of Demba Ba for £7 million result in a “good bit of business” for Chelsea? Personally, I think Chelsea were wrong to sell Sturridge as he provides another option, and gets many chances, despite not taking them regularly enough.

However, I believe Ba is more reliable and trustworthy in front of goal, despite not having the longevity that Sturridge has who is 23, four years younger than Ba. However, a profit of £5 million means I think Chelsea have done right. For what it’s worth, I still think Chelsea need a striker, even on loan, as I think Lukaku should finish his loan spell at West Brom.

To conclude, I am feeling very confident about how well Ba can do for Chelsea. As I mentioned previously, there is no real reason to doubt Ba’s potential to score vast numbers of goals.

As well as goals, he will provide industry, great movement and another option away from the highly unpredictable and sometimes frustrating Fernando Torres.

It’s a thumbs up for this deal from me.

 

Written by Joshua Sodergren

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Daniel Sturridge: Should Chelsea let go of him?

Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge is still expected to jump ship and join Capital One Cup Champions Liverpool. Sturridge was expected to undergo a medical with Liverpool last Sunday, but it never materialized and both clubs are now remaining quiet on the transfer.

A fee of £12 million has been agreed for the England international and reports from the Daily Mail say the Blues are gathering £1.5 million in private expenses to ensure the 23 year old completes his move to Anfield. Sturridge is expected to pen a three and a half year deal with the Reds, but Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers insisted the deal is yet to be complete.

“Nothing will be complete until we’ve signed a player. Once we do, I’ll have no problem in speaking about who we’ve signed. We’re confident we can get some business done early in January which will really help the squad. Until that happens, there is nothing really to add.”

Striking options are limited for Brendan Rogers who loaned out Andy Carroll to West Ham and suffered a blow when Fabio Borini was ruled out for three months, when he broke his foot in the clash with Manchester United in October.

Liverpool were in for the former Manchester man back in the summer but the deal fell through when Sturridge declined a loan insisting he wanted a permanent move. Sturridge still has 18 months left on his Chelsea contract but the Blues seem content re-leaving Sturridge’s £60,000 a week wage off their bill.

The 2011/12 campaign was Sturridge’s break through. On the back of an impressive loan spell with Bolton where he scored eight times in twelve appearances, Sturridge cemented himself in then manager Villas Boas’ side and scored 13 goals and grabbed seven assists in 43 games. However Sturridge’s demands of playing through the middle and then a dip in form saw him lose his place in the starting eleven and make a mere 12 appearances in all competitions this season.

If ever there was a time for Sturridge to lead the line for Chelsea it would be now. With Didier Drogba gone and Torres still not yet fully convincing, I think staying at Chelsea would be a better option.

Chelsea expect to challenge for honors each season and offer Champions League football; two major things Liverpool cannot guarantee.

 

Written by Farhan Daw

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Robert Lewandowski: Should Manchester United go for him?

Several reports claim that Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski will join Manchester United . Some reports claim the player will sign a five year contract worth £20.5 million and will move to Old Trafford in the summer.

Lewandowski is a player in demand and his form over the past two seasons has seen interest gather from all over Europe. German football director Michael Zorc has accepted Dortmund are powerless to stop the Polish International from leaving.

“We do not know where he will go but the departure of Robert Lewandowski at the end of the season is a done deal.”

Lewandowski’s contract with Dortmund does not expire until 2014, however he has declined a new contract offer and the German champions prefer to sell the 24 year old rather than risk losing value for the player who struck 30 goals in 47 appearances.

However, despite the talent of Robert Lewandowski, many question why Manchester United are in the market for another forward. Surely having the option for Rooney, Van Persie, Hernandez and Welbeck, plus Young, Nani, Kagawa and Valancia is enough. With these incredible attacking options, why are United searching for a new forward?

With reports suggesting Lewandowski’s transfer to United is imminent, what does that mean for the rest of United’s attackers? Where and who will be playing? And how frequently? Well, Van Persie and Wayne Rooney certainly will not be dropped. Van Persie is the best striker in the league and one of the best in the world.

The former Arsenal captain struck 37 times for Arsenal last year, and with 16 goals in 23 games, the Dutchman has certainly picked up where he left off. While Wayne Rooney is the embodiment of what Manchester United represents: quality, aggression and determination. Rooney can play anywhere and his capability to do everything makes him the world class footballer he is.

However, where does that leave Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck? Both forwards are important members of the Manchester United squad and both young forwards have proven themselves with impressive goal tallies. Hernandez is easily the best finisher in the league. His movement, composure and knack of being in the right place at the right time has saved United many points and was instrumental to United’s title winning campaign in 2010/11.

In my opinion why Manchester United would be in the market for a new forward is beyond me and rather than look at attackers, he should look to strengthen other parts of his squad –  mainly fullbacks and a centre midfielder.

The ageing legs of Scholes and Giggs, plus the unfilled potential of Anderson, who has been blighted by injuries has been the subject of criticism as United have been ridiculed for not harbouring a world class midfielder; someone who can dictate and orchestrate the play from the middle of the park.

 

Written by Farhan Daw

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Premier League Betting Preview: This Weekend’s Top 5 Bets

On Boxing Day, Stoke City produced one of the performances of not just that day, but in my opinion the entire Premier League season, in order to come back from going behind after the best part of 90 seconds to defeat Liverpool 3-1 at a raucous Britannia Stadium.

The Potters belied their somewhat harsh attribution as a primitive route one football team by beasting the Merseyside club with a skilful, physical, and technically adept performance, backed by a passionate crowd in a white-hot night atmosphere. Ignore the naysayers – Stoke can play football. Expect them to play some more winning football against Southampton today.

The Saints have only scored one goal from open play this month and will find it extra difficult to break down the Premier League’s meanest defence without talisman Adam Lallana. Stoke to win two-nil.

Both teams have scored in 16 of Everton’s 19 Premier League matches this season, and with Chelsea coming to Goodison on Sunday expect that particular bet to oblige again. Yes, the London Blues have kept clean sheets in their last two matches, but they were against relative goalscoring lightweights in Aston Villa and Norwich.

The Mersey Blues have notched in every game bar one in 2012/13, and can sufficiently trouble a defence that is missing their organiser-in-chief in John Terry, but is better for having David Luiz moved to midfield. By 5pm this evening, perhaps the only bunch of London-based professionals who would be thankful for the Boxing Day tube strike may well be the motley bunch at West Ham United.

Well-rested after the postponement of their London derby against Arsenal which was originally scheduled for what is known in my household as ‘cold turkey day’, the Hammers can overcome the Royals at the Madjeski today.

The other beneficiary of crucial unplanned rest during this hectic period of games may well be the Gunners, who take on Newcastle in the evening kick-off tonight. The Geordies have probably the toughest festive fixture line-up of any Premier League side, with long tough trips to Old Trafford and the Emirates whilst many clubs have either home fixtures or local derbies with little travelling time. They finish off against Everton on Wednesday.

What may be forgotten in the midst of the Sir Alex Ferguson refereeing controversy is that Newcastle ran Man United so close before succumbing at the last, and Alan Pardew’s depleted squad may well be feeling that expansive yet fruitless effort come late on at the Emirates. The fresh Gunners can make hay, especially Theo Walcott with his pace and his new centre forward position.

After heavy defeats to Chelsea and Tottenham, I see that a couple of bookmakers have made Wigan favourites to defeat Aston Villa at Villa Park today. Absolute nonsense. Yes, Paul Lambert’s young side got taught lessons by two of the Premier League best and in-form clubs, but you simply won’t face a rampant Bale or a Lampard and Luiz masterclass every week.

Wigan, who can be currently found in the relegation zone, are in no great form themselves having lost three on the trot and five out of the last six. Only West Ham have scored fewer away goals (although that may change by the time they’re done with Reading today) and let’s not forget, Villa’s three home defeats have come at the hands of top five sides in Man United, Spurs and Everton.

Against sides of Wigan’s quality, Benteke, Agbonlahor and the young guns can make hay and the Villains can be backed to return to form at a ridiculously generous price this afternoon.

TOP FIVE TIPS

1) Stoke to beat Southampton to nil 23/10 CORAL
2) Everton vs Chelsea Both teams to score 4/6 LADBROKES
3) West Ham 0 Asian Handicap 88/100 LADBROKES (Stakes returned if match is drawn)
4) Arsenal vs. Newcastle Walcott to score anytime 11/8 BETVICTOR
5) Aston Villa to beat Wigan 9/5 WILLIAM HILL

Elsewhere, in the early kick-off today the Gareth Bale rolls up at the Stadium of Light as a rejuvenated Sunderland entertain Spurs. I don’t think either side would turn their nose up at a point apiece from that encounter.

A Michu-less Swansea are hosted by Fulham later in the afternoon, and while one club are missing their lead scorer, the other club’s leading marksman is adamant that his team-mates should ‘keep calm and pass him the ball’. If they take that advice then Dimitar Berbatov may well be inspiring his team to a much-needed victory today.

The Manchester clubs continue their title chase ding-dong today, with United hosting West Brom and champions City going to Norwich. Roberto Mancini’s men go to Carrow Road knowing they cannot afford to lose and see their neighbours win as per the events of Boxing Day, otherwise the gap in points between the two will increase to double figures. Expect the top two sides to utilise their massive squads to good effect today.

Finally, bottom club QPR take on Liverpool at Loftus Road in the Sunday evening match, a match which Harry Redknapp must be targeting three points from. Liverpool need to show more fight than they did at the Britannia in order to deter Harry’s boys.

 

Written by Emelie Okeke

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Arda Turan: Should Arsenal go for him in January?

Arda Turan – arguably the best attacking midfielder in Liga BBVA. His amazing dribbling skills, his eye for a killer pass and his goalscoring record make him a perfect player for most clubs. In the 2012/13 season, Turan has scored 4 goals and created 3 goals, with 19 shots in just 16 games so far.

Many top European clubs are reportedly after him, including Arsenal, who are rumoured to have agreed personal terms with the 25 year old Turkish international. It is unlikely that Arsenal will pay €24 million (£19.7 million) for Turan as that is the buy out clause in his contract.

Turan’s agent, Ahment Bulut said: ‘I have wanted to see him play for another team in another league and Arda also wants to play for another club, to live a different experience. We are working now to make it happen. Atletico know what our intention is. If all goes well, Arda will leave the Madrid club at the end of this season.’ This implies that the January transfer will not go through, but instead it will go through in the summer.

Even if the transfer does go through you can’t help but wonder where he will play, and if he will ever play? With players like Jack Wilshere who is back to fitness, Mikel Arteta who seems to be one of the first names on the team sheet and Santi Cazorla who is Arsenals new main man in midfield, there’s going to be a huge battle for a spot in the starting line-up. Maybe on the wing? But with Theo Walcott signing – or if he signs – a new contract; will that happen? Maybe Walcott could play down the middle? These are the type of questions Arsene Wenger will have to answer.

Arsene Wenger seems to be the reason Turan is likely to go to Arsenal it seems as well, with his agent saying, ‘He (Arda Turan) is interested in working under Arsene Wenger because he is very good at working with young players, and Arda wants to work in England.’

Maybe a bad addition to the Arsenal squad some would argue as he would knock some players who are already established in the team out, such as Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain? In my opinion, that’s healthy competition and would improve all the players involved which would be perfect for Arsenal, and for the future and present of the club.

 

Written by Alex Thornley

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Liverpool: Top 4 Hopes

Since Rafa Benitez left Liverpool FC in the summer of 2010 every one of his successors has had the same task: get the club back into the Champions League. Roy Hodgson was brought in to “steady the ship”, but he left the club after only 6 months in charge. Kenny Dalglish was seen by many as the right man, and after an impressive second part of the 2010/11 season he got the job full-time.

New owners FSG gave Kenny all the money needed to get the club back on track, but he overspent on average players and finished only 8th in the league. After such a disappointing league finish, Kenny’s future was clear.

After a long search, Brendan Rodgers was indentified as the man to take Liverpool forward and try to achieve the ultimate goal: return to the Champions League. So far the team has underperformed under his guidance, sitting in mid-table for the whole first part of the season. But the blame is not only on Rodgers, it is also on previous regimes and the owners.

When FSG first arrived they were willing to invest big to get Liverpool “back to where they belong.” But after a spending spree of around €120m, with 2/3 of that money wasted on overpriced and simply not good enough players, they seem to have tightened their belt. It is something most businessmen would do after seeing so much of their money wasted, but it’s not how things work in football.

The reason why they appointed Brendan Rodgers as manager is because he is young, hungry for success and has a long-term vision for the club. Their fault in this whole story is that they have failed to support the manager they have chosen as long-term solution. Rodgers has spent a little less than €40m in the summer, which is a small figure considering the amount of money Dalglish and Comolli had spent.

Rodgers needs to shoulder his part of the blame too. He needs time to get the team to play the way he wants them to play, but so far performances and results have been too poor and inconsistent. His signings haven’t really been huge successes either: Joe Allen has started brightly but has been very poor lately, Fabio Borini got injured at the beginning of the season, Nuri Sahin has been either dropped or played out of position and Assaidi has disappeared.

The biggest problem for Rodgers is that the team isn´t showing any signs of improvement. The defence seems to be getting worse every game and the team is still struggling to score goals. With January knocking on the door, Rodgers will have to make some very smart moves if he wants to get anything out of this season.

The first thing Rodgers and his staff need to do is choose which positions they want to strenghted in January. There are a lot of positions in need of strenghtening, but it can´t be all done in January. 3 positions most in need of strenghtening at the moment are the two wide forward positions and left back. The 2 players most linked with Liverpool so far are Daniel Sturridge and Tom Ince. And while both are solid young talents the question is how much can they improve the current team.

Daniel Sturridge seems to be a done deal, with a reported fee of around €15m. The English youngster had a good season for Chelsea last year, but has failed to break into the 1st team since RDM took over. Under Rafa Benitez he has fallen out of 1st team plans completely, and Chelsea were more than happy to sell him.

Sturridge..... reportedly set  for January move to Anfield.

Sturridge….. reportedly set for January move to Anfield.

 

For many Liverpool supporters this is seen as another case of overspending on homegrown players, and it may well be the case. It is very unwise to use such a big chunk of the club’s budget on a young, unproven Chelsea reject.

If Liverpool are to get back into top 4 contention, they need to extend their market. Signing players with PL experience may have its positive sides, but prices for such players are very inflated and mostly don’t represent value for money.

€15m for Sturridge is a good example of that- it may pay off but there are some cheaper and probably better alternatives abroad. Players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Dries Mertens are top talents and would probably cost the same or even less than Sturridge.

If Liverpool manage to make some good signings in January and future transfer windows, keep their top players and give Rodgers the much needed time and money the club will get back into CL contention and maybe even achieve that goal by 2015. By then some of the youngsters will mature and Liverpool will have a good, young and strong team ready to return to Champions League football.

But if they keep overpaying on average players and sacking managers, Champions League football will only be a dream that will soon be forgotten.

 

Written by Ivan Stanic

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Special Feature: Picking The Champions League Round Of 16

Now that the UEFA Champions League round of 16 parings have been announced, it is time for football fans all to begin debating them. With the ties not set to occur until mid-February, there is ample time for fans and analysts alike to pick them apart and predict the outcomes. And, of course, this is a particularly exciting process for those who will be placing bets.

Online gambling has become increasingly popular in recent years, and while much of the industry is focused on casino sites like partypoker.com, there is also a great deal of focus on sports betting. For fans, this means that once you’ve made up your mind on the round of 16, you can place a few bets, and really have something on the line during the matches. So without further ado, here are brief analyses and picks for each tie.

 

Galatasaray A.S. vs. FC Schalke

While Galatasaray looks like the underdog on paper, they may actually be the safer bet. Schalke is capable and dangerous, but has struggled in Bundesliga as of late, and is also going through a coaching transition (with Jens Keller replacing Huub Stevens).

Galatasaray, on the other hand, just wrapped up group play with a trio of wins, and few are as hot scoring goals as forward Burak Yilmaz. Schalke remains the oddsmakers’ favourite, but this one is tight. Galatasaray is the pick, against the odds.

 

Celtic FC vs. Juventus

The leg in Scotland won’t be easy, but Andrea Pirlo and Juventus made it through the group stage in relatively dominant fashion, and look to be among the favourites moving forward. A victory for Celtic would be rather shocking here, and Juventus is the smart pick.

 

Arsenal FC vs. FC Bayern Munchen

Having scored 15 goals in the group stage, Bayern is a true powerhouse in this round of 16. Arsenal is never a pushover, but struggled to some extent on both ends of the field during the group stage, and doesn’t seem to have the firepower to stop Bayern. Last year’s runner up, Bayern, will advance.

 

FC Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Borussia Dortmund

Shakhtar impressed during the group stage, defeating Chelsea and earning a draw at Juventus. But, perhaps no team was stronger in the group stage than Dortmund. Currently Germany’s best, Dortmund navigated the group of death with near perfection, and is the pick to move forward in what should be a thrilling tie.

 

AC Milan vs. FC Barcelona

Milan managed only 7 goals in the group stage, and finished with the lowest point total of any team to advance. There isn’t much more to say about this tie – Messi and Barcelona will almost certainly be too much for Milan to handle.

 

Real Madrid CF vs. Manchester United FC

A tie between two historic powers looking to return to the top, this is inarguably the most intriguing of the match-ups. Madrid advanced through the group of death, but has been less than emphatic in recent play, and is essentially out of the running in La Liga.

Meanwhile, the forward combination of newcomer Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney has Manchester United looking quite strong of late. This is a near toss-up and should be a thrilling tie. Madrid remains the oddsmakers’ favourite, but given recent play, Manchester is the pick here, against the odds.

 

Valencia CF vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Despite a strong showing – only one loss, at Bayern – in the group stage, Valencia has looked weak of late, and sits at 11th in La Liga standings. Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic leads a scintillating attack for Paris Saint-Germain – one that should carry them through the round of 16 over the Spanish side.

 

FC Porto vs. Malaga CF

This looks to be a closely contested tie between two teams playing fairly well in recent matches. Having earned the first place spot in Group C, and sitting at 4th place in La Liga, Malaga probably looks just a bit stronger right now, and also gets to play at home for the second league. Because of this, Malaga is the pick – but it’s a near toss-up.

 

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Infographic: 2012/13 La Liga in Numbers

At PowerTable, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to present football data to fans of the beautiful game. We have therefore come up with our La Liga infographic which is a visual way of showing random data, stats and facts to do with the Spanish football season so far.

For instance, how many different goalscorers has there been?  Who has made the most passes?  Who is the oldest player? Which team has scored the most goals in away games?  We think we’ve produced the best football infographic on the La Liga ever created, what do you think?

 

 

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