By Sean Connolly
It seems like this whole Ronaldinho trade has gone on for too long. It’s obvious that Barcelona wants to get rid of the guy, so why is it so hard to get him on a new team. Ronaldinho has been rumored to have been traded to AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Manchester City.
At first it seemed certain that Ronaldinho would be a part of AC Milan come next season. But as talks fell through over money and the concerns of Ronaldinho’s health, AC Milan faded away for a bit in the Ronaldinho Sweepstakes. Not letting their rival get an upper hand, Inter Milan soon joined the mix distributing a bid for the once greatest player in the world. And in every race you need a darkhorse, a long shot, a nobody. Manchester City stepped up and probably put the most appetizing deal on the table for Ronaldinho.
Again though, AC Milan has taken the lead. They are now trying to decide between taking Emmanuel Adebayor or Ronaldinho. Who will AC Milan take though? I think they’re leaning more towards Adebayor, which again opens things up for Manchester City who would really be the only bidder left for Ronaldinho. Taking Adebayor over Ronaldinho is the better choice for AC Milan due to his size and age which could put Ronaldinho in Manchester City.
It seems to me that Ronaldinho has a desire to come to the English Premier League. Whether or not coming to Manchester City will satisfy what he wants is totally different. As I said in my first post about this ongoing trade, Ronaldinho going to AC Milan and playing in Serie A would be a terrible idea for him. In such a defensive league Ronaldinho will certainly struggle if traded to AC Milan or Inter Milan.
Manchester City being a long shot to get Ronaldinho kind of got me thinking. I know it’s border line impossible but maybe just maybe an MLS team can get in the mix for him. If anything just a couple of talks could certainly help for the future like when he gets ready to hang up the cleats. He could pull a David Beckham and decide to come over here. Why not? I’m just saying, say whoever signs Ronaldinho is probably going to let him go after probably 3 years. After that the interest in him will be so low that he just might need that attention (like Beckham needed it). He gets that attention from MLS teams who see dollar signs and a great marketing tool. Ronaldinho comes to the MLS plays for a couple years and steps the MLS up another notch. Far fetched but, if you’re the MLS, what have you got to lose?
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By Sean Connolly
Depending on the health of David Villa, Spain will have the three most effective strikers in the game this Sunday in the UEFA Euro Final against Germany. They were also good enough to get past the bad luck of the yellow jerseys.
Germany’s defense has squandered silly goals throughout these Euro Finals, and behind that defense is, how should I put this, inept keeper in Jens Lehmann. He made two crucial errors that resulted in goals in the game against Turkey, so don’t be surprised if Fernando Torres, David Villa, and Cesc Fabregas make him look just as awful.
If you’re a Germany fan, you have to admit that the Germans haven’t been convincing. If not for the foot of Lucas Podolski, Germany wouldn’t have even made it out of the group stage. Other than his header against Turkey yesterday (which thanks to a lightning strike that ruined the video feed for ESPN, I did not get to see live on television), Miroslav Klose has yet to be as effective as he was in the 2006 World Cup. Michael Ballack has looked sluggish at times and Podolski seems unable to play 100% for 90 minutes. Germany is limping into this final and they will need much more to win over Spain who comes into the final in stride.
For the second time in the tournament today Spain picked apart Gus Hiddink’s Russia. They looked unstoppable on offense, and their one minor weakness in their defense played brilliantly. Puyol and company shut down Russia giving them little to no chance of putting the ball passed Iker Casillas. The most impressive part of Spain’s dismantle of Russia, was on their third and final goal. After a turnover by Russia, Spain played keep away from Russia’s Andrei Arshavin (who, with his tremendous performance throughout these Euro Finals, may find himself in the English Premiership, more specifically Chelsea, with a lot of money), forming a perfect triangle and passing around him. In what looked like a set drill in a practice session in which you have to pass the ball a certain amount of times before you moved forward, the ball was dumped forward to a wide open Cesc Fabregas who had room to roam. He broke away down the pitch with David Silva trailing down the middle and Fabregas placed it perfectly on Silva’s foot and he buried the ball past Igor Akinfeev and ended any chances of Russia coming back.
Fabregas’ performance off the bench was by far the most impressive in Euro this year. He came on for the leading scorer in these Euro Finals and put on a scintillating performance. As soon as he graced the field he brought enthusiasm, excitement, and ultimately goals to the Spanish side. Fabregas ended up with two remarkable assists. With Torres creating chances but not finishing them, expect Fabregas to start in the final against Germany.
Throughout this tournament Spain has been the most convincing team. Of the four powerhouse teams, Portugal, Germany, Italy, and Spain, Spain has been the only team play to their potential. They come into this game at their best with Cesc Fabregas at the start of becoming the most successful Spanish player in the past 25 years. Sunday’s match will have little competition, my prediction…3-1 Spain. Their first Euro title since 1964.
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By Sean Connolly
So far, so good. This Euro had a slow start but now is beginning to pick up as it should. We are now at the knockout stage with Russia upsetting Sweden in the final decisive game to get to the knockout round. Already I am salivating at most of the match ups…mainly Portugal against Germany.
Portugal vs. Germany- Coming into this game the better side is obviously Portugal. They easily won group A and showed their firepower throughout. Germany on the other hand limp into the knockout stage beat up and bruised. They will be without their coach, Joakim Low, after UEFA issued a one game ban for arguing in the game against Austria. Their top scorer in Lucas Podolski is tired and beat up and his fitness is in question. But don’t ever count out the Germans. They come in playing their best soccer after beating Austria, and Ballack’s masterful free kick might be just what the German captain needed. As for Portugal they have steadily improved throughout this tournament and in the last game against Switzerland they were able to rest a majority of their starters. I just think that Portugal is fitter and playing much better soccer at the moment. Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t seemed phased by the trade rumors going on between Manchester United and Real Madrid and the same goes for Deco and his possible exit out of Barcelona. Portugal right now is the better side and I see a 2-1 win for Scolari and his Portuguese.
Croatia vs. Turkey- After one of the best comebacks in Euro history, Turkey comes into the knockout round with an heir of invincibility and a great deal of confidence. Turkey is the only team to come back from a deficit in the tournament, achieving that feat in two separate games. Their upset comeback over Petr Cech’s Czech Republic solidified that Turkey is no fluke and have the team that could make it deep into this tournament. As for Croatia, well they have simply played great in their last two games. In their first game, a 1-0 win over hosts Austria, it looked as if Croatia may be in trouble against Germany. They easily handled the Germans and went on to win group B with an outstanding 9 points. This should be a magnificent game with another late Turkey comeback. I expect a Croatian goal though in extra time to give Croatia a 2-1 victory over Turkey.
Netherlands vs. Russia- After easily beating a heavily favored Sweden side, Gus Hiddink has proved that the magic he has performed in the past was indeed no fluke. It looks as if this young Russian squad could be another one of Hiddik’s teams that surprise everyone. Hiddink did it with his counterpart in Netherlands several years ago and they match up in the knock out round. Netherlands came out of the “Group of Death” which included France, Italy, and Romania, without even breaking a sweat and quickly proved that they are the strongest, deepest team in the tournament. I fear though that Russian’s young side will be no match for the well rounded Dutch. 3-1 Netherlands in another easy game for the Dutchmen.
Spain vs. Italy- The Italians have been a bit of a mystery in this tournament. They were blown out by Netherlands in the first game, nearly lost to the Romanians if not for Buffon’s amazing penalty save on Romania’s Mutu, and they beat up on the French. So, what will come of the Italian side in the knockout round? I’m not sure, but what I am sure of is that Spain has the firepower to rip apart any defense at any time during the game. Italy’s great defense has been anything but in this tournament and I think Fernando Torres and David Villa will easily put a few past Buffon. I’m only going against Italy because they have played so erratically. Spain have played well in all their games and I predict a 2-1 win for the Spanish.
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