New Arrivals, Injuries and the Europa League for Birmingham City Football Club

Chris Hughton has strengthened his Birmingham City squad with the signing of Senegalese international Guirane N’Daw from Saint Etienne.

The 27-year-old defensive midfielder has joined on an extended loan until the New Year and becomes Birmingham City’s ninth signing of the transfer window.

N’Daw began his career in 2002 at French side Sochaux where he made 122 appearances. He then moved to Nantes in 2008 before joining Saint Etienne after completing a successful season-long loan.

He was loaned out to Spain’s Real Zaragoza last season, making nine appearances for the La Liga side.

The new arrival, who has played for his country 36 times has been handed the Birmingham City number 8 shirt and despite being ineligible for Thursday’s Europa play-off tie against C.D. Nacional, it is understood that he will be available for Sunday’s Championship clash away at Watford.

The reason for the speedy and unexpected signing of Guirane N’Daw was the injury sustained by Birmingham’s Jordan Mutch who has had an operation on his ankle and will be sidelined for up to three months.

The youngster suffered the injury in a training ground accident at Wast Hills last week and a scan has revealed a break.

The 19-year-old has since gone under the knife to rectify the problem.

Manager Chris Hughton told the official website «It has been confirmed that he has broken his ankle which will keep him out for a period of about three months and that is a big blow for us.

«Jordon was a big player for us in the pre-season period and in the first couple of games and his form was very good.

«But these are the unfortunate things you have to work around and of course that will always give someone else an opportunity.»

As the Birmingham City board prepare for the Europa play-off match against Portugal’s C.D. Nacional they have asked the fans to arrive early and to especially be on their best behaviour to avoid any heavy fines and sanctions. The club have also reminded the supporters of the UEFA regulations forbidding the sale of alcohol inside St Andrew’s Stadium during the match.

Sharp eyed Blues fans may also spot the difference with the St Andrew’s playing surface for this match with UEFA rules insisting on the pitch being 68 metres in width as opposed to the usual 66. The length will however remain at 100 metres.

It has been confirmed that Birmingham City’s ticket allocation for the Europa League, Group H clash with Club Brugge KV on Thursday October 20th will be a maximum of 1,500.

With such a small number of tickets allocated, many Blues supporters are set to miss out, some of whom, I’m sure have already arranged travel and accommodation for the match.

Although the Jan Breydel Stadium has a capacity of around 30,000, Blues will be offered just 5 percent of this number.

A statement issued by Brugge authorities has warned Birmingham City supporters not to travel to the stadium if they do not possess a valid match ticket. Offenders will be escorted back to the city centre before kick off.

Selling arrangements for Blues allocation will be announced shortly by the club.

Camisetas Inglaterra Diario SPORT. Versión online del periódico deportivo. Todas las noticias del Barça y del mundo del deporte en general.

Real Madrid Struggles But Wins Over Zaragoza 2-0

Last Sunday Real Madrid got back their advantage of seven points as well as the leadership of the Spanish Liga rankings, but the team struggled during great part of the game against Real Zaragoza before winning 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Real Madrid’s accurate effectiveness gave the team the advantage at the 65th minute thanks to the Dutch Ruud van Nistelrooy; practically the first clear attack in all the game; followed by a goal from the Brazilian Robinho assuring the locals triumph.

The game’s top player was with no doubt Real Madrid’ goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The visiting team dominated the game for more than one hour, but without any effectiveness due to Casillas’ outstanding performance.

Madrid extended their perfect record playing at home and keep heading the championship with 44 points, seven points above FC Barcelona; team that won last Sunday’s game as well against the Real Mallorca. In third position is the Espanyol after their victory on Saturday against the Villarreal as locals, and in fourth place the Atlético de Madrid.

The Catalonian team is just one point behind Barça; these teams continue the battle closely following the steps of the Real Madrid.

Despite; Real Madrid’s laborious triumph against Zaragoza there was a black spot which concerns the team; the Argentinean defense Gabriel Heinze suffered a thigh tear and will have to remain inactive during at least three weeks.

In other games of the day, Real Valladolid beat 3-0 the Getafe as the visitor, Racing de Santander won 1-0 over Atlético de Bilbao at home and Real Murcia surpassed by 2-0 the Osasuna like locals. In the meantime, Recreativo de Huelva and Almería draw 1-1.

The Atlético celebrated a remarkable defeat 3-0 against the «Depor» as visitors, headed by Diego Forlán and Sergio Aguero. Forlán assured to change the scoreboard at the 6th minute after the break.

On the other hand, the Argentinean Aguero did shine on the field in a display of talent to add a spectacular goal. And only 12 minutes later midfielder Jurado set the final figures after the local defense could not clear a corner shot.

Camisetas Juventus Noticias de futbol. Mundial, Liga Santander, Champions League, Copa del Rey y más. Todo el futbol en Mundo Deportivo

Spanish Super Cup 2011: A Tussle Between La Liga and Copa Del Rey Winners

Spain is the reigning world champion, having won the FIFA world cup in 2010 by beating Holland in the final. They have for long been considered one of the top football playing nations but have consistently underperformed at the international level until recently.

That said, the game is extremely popular in the country and the fans of the game constitute the biggest inspiration for the national team that relies on a solid championship structure at the club level.

The Spanish Super Cup, known as the Supercopa de España, is a Spanish football championship in which the winners of the La Liga take on the winners of the Copa del Rey. This is similar to the Community shield in England in which the winners of the Premier League and the FA cup face each other in a traditional season opener.

This year’s tournament in Spain will be contested by Barcelona, who won the 2010-11 edition of the La Liga; they will face Real Madrid who won the Copa del Rey, last season.

The competition as it is currently played was first organized in 1982. In a previous era of Spanish football, between 1940 and 1953, a similar competition was held, in which the winners of the league and the cup, then called the Copa del Generalismo, met in similar fashion.

The tournament was initially called Copa de Campeones when it began, in 1940, after which there was a hiatus for five years, before a similar contest was held in 1945, under the sponsorship of the Ambassador of Argentina, under the name of Copa de Oro Argentina.

Two years later, a new annual tournament called the Copa Eva Duarte de Perón was held and dedicated to the President and the first lady of Argentina. The tournament was held between the ninth and last months of the year, in the form of a single-leg final.

The 2010 Spanish Super Cup was contested by Sevilla FC who won the Copa del Rey that year, and Barcelona, who were the La Liga winners for the 2009-10 season. Barcelona beat Sevilla by a 5-3 aggregate score in the two-leg encounter to claim their 9th Super Cup title.

Among other champions, Real Madrid have won the title on eight occasions, since the tournament began in 1982, while Deportivo have won it twice. There have been seven other champions to have won it once each. These are Sevilla, Zaragoza, Valencia, Mallorca, Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad.

Camisetas futbol baratas Entérate de las últimas noticias del fútbol español y europeo. Con las principales novedades de la Liga y la Champions League.

FC Barcelona Pictures and News

Experience the glorious past and the vibrant present of FC Barcelona through pictures and news readily available online. Apart from the official club website, exciting and breathtaking FC Barcelona pictures are in abundance in several blogs, news sites, and websites dedicated to the club. Check out the latest FC Barcelona news in the top news sites in the world as well as in the official and other unofficial websites.

Futbol Club Barcelona, nicknamed Barça, is not as much as a football club as it is a Catalan institution. Founded in 1899, it is one of the best Spanish clubs with Real Madrid as its closest rival. At present, it home to other sports teams apart from the football club.

FC Barcelona is said to be the most popular football club in the whole of Europe. Some surveys show that it has a fan base of 44.2 million fans in the football-crazy continent alone. Hence, FC Barcelona news and Barça rumors are in great demand online. Fans are also racing to shoot photos of their beloved club during matches and sell them online. Online buyers are faced with several options.

Track Record

Barça is among the big three Spanish football club. Alongside Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, it has never been relegated or demoted from the La Liga, the premier league in Spain. All in all, the club has lifted 18 La Liga titles, a record of 24 Spanish Cups, two League Cups, and seven Spanish Super Cups.

In European leagues, FC Barcelona has won four UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups, two European Cups, two UEFA Super Cups, and three Inter-Cities Fairs Cups.

Camp Nou

The home stadium of Barça is Camp Nou, also referred to as «Nou Camp.» Constructed in 1957, it has witnessed hundreds of football matches against visiting clubs since 1857. Camp Nou is rated by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) as a five-star stadium. It can hold up to 98,772 people and is the biggest European football stadium.

Camp Nou is one of the preferred hosts of UEFA Champions League Finals. The club won their very first game at their new stadium in 1957. They thrashed Legia Warsaw of Germany, 4-2.It was built from 1954 to 1957 and was designed by a group of three architects. The stadium has also been the venue for several major music events.

There are plenty of FC Barcelona pictures with Camp Nou as the background available to fans. They come in colored and black-and-white. Sometimes, the pictures are able to capture the club in their most intense action. There is drama, joy, love, and passion in pictures. You could also easily find group and individual photos.

Latest News

In the most recent Barça news, the club bulldozed Malaga in a pre-weekend La Liga match. The resounding win catapulted the club to the topmost position in the league standings, six points ahead Real Madrid. They are slated to next face Valladolid but their recent triumph over Malaga is bound to boost their spirits prior to their anticipated UEFA Champions League quarterfinal fixture against Germany’s Bayern Munich. Browse online for photos and the latest news of the match.

A Profile of Carles Puyol

As a defender Carles Puyol remains somewhat in the shadow of players such as Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o or Lionel Messi, but with his energy, stamina and focus, he remains a favourite in the Nou Camp and is an essential member of the current line-up. Considered to be one of the best defenders in the world, Carles Puyol is also the first Catalan captain to have held the Champions League Cup aloft after the team defeated Arsenal in May 2006, the competition in which he was awarded Defender of the Year.

As team captain since the 2003-2004 season after Phillip Cocu left Barcelona for PSV Eindhoven, Puyol’s stocky build with legs built like tree trunks and a trademark head of curly locks all belie his speed and agility on the pitch and once he removes his shirt he reveals a ripped torso that is the product of many hours of hard training, impressively fee of any sign of body fat.

In fact Puyol’s dedication is such that he objects to being left out of a single match selection, even if it is for a rest period when the team is playing a number of matches is a short space of time and he has been noted to attend training sessions where he was specifically given a rest day.

Born in La Pobla de Segur, which is located in the interior of Catalonia, on April 13 1978, as a boy Carles Puyol played for the local side. He was signed for the FC Barcelona B team in 1996 at the age of 17 and made is first team debut in 1999 under Louis Van Gaal, when visiting Barcelona beat Valladolid 2-0.

Currently playing in the centre-back position, Puyol first played for Barcelona in the right back position when he was promoted from the B team. His original position as a boy was in goal, but when shoulder injuries prevented him from continuing he began to play as a striker, perhaps contributing to his attacking mentality today – you can only imagine what he would have been like as a goalkeeper given his absolute determination to stop the ball as a defender, but what is sure is that he would have played hard, perhaps contributing to his injuries.

Although he plays in the Spanish selection, which he has also captained on occasion, Carles Puyol is a Barcelona diehard through and through and it is difficult to imagine him playing for any other club when his contract expires in 2010, whatever offer was on the table. While Messi has been brought up at Barcelona – and there is no doubt about his current dedication to the club – it remains to be seen whether he could be lured away, but players such as Ronaldinho and Eto’o, whatever their brilliance, can only ever be considered hired hands.

Is There a Crisis in Real Madrid?

After Coach Bernd Schuster missed a voluntary training exercise this past weekend and only 5 players showed up as well, many believe this and many other issues are a reflection of crisis in «The Whites» club.

After being defeated by a third division club (Real Irun) which caused them the elimination out of the Kings Cup and falling 1-0 against Real Valladolid on November 15th, Coach Schuster gave his team a forced 2 day break to relax and plan for the clubs next steps.

The word «crisis» echoes all over the Bernabeu Clubs front lines; there is no secret among the fans and sports media regarding the situation with player’s performance, but why? Has the club lost interest in the Spanish League? Is the physical preparation to average for the squad? Perhaps these and many other issues have taken the elite club down the hill for a moment.

What are the main problems that have affected the club this year? And have them paying the bills almost finishing this 2008? Well, to start with the club is famous for signing the best players in the planet, no matter the costs or political issues involve.

The fact that Cristiano Ronaldo decided to remain in the Manchester United instead of signing the multi-million dollar contract with The Whites; left many wondering that perhaps the economical aspect was not the cause for the transaction to failed, but more of social phenomena. The Real Madrid waited for to long for Cristiano Ronaldo to change his mind and by the time he rejected the offer, possible contracts with David Villa or Santi Cazorla were already lost.

Now, the issues with Robinho escalated way more than the club expected, and at the end he left. Since the club was not prepared when Robinho, the only player they could signed during that moment was Rafael Van der Vaart, who is a great striker, but Robinhos position in the field was hard to replace.

The clubs main objective this 2008 season was based on high performance and less injuries; now in days the club is cursed with casualties, but the one who has and will affect the club the rest of the season is the possible 9 month period without striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who seriously injured his knee recently.

Coach Bernd Schuster has also been distant and reserved with the media, especially after some comments on his replacement by the end of the season and others regarding his lack of faith with players of Real’s «First Team» , whom Schuster has not paid much attention, if none at all since he began coaching the A team.

The team is only two points away to take the lead on the board and they are performing well on the Champions league, so claiming that there is no crisis at all seems out of the question, since an elite club like Real Madrid speaks with performance and not controversy.

Spanish Football – Barcelona at the Top of La Liga

The Blaugranas of the Spanish League, the FC Barcelona, reached the top of the table of the Spanish Primera Liga this past Saturday, by beating the Malaga team 1-4.

The game was hard for Barcelona as heavy rainstorms were falling at the Malaga home stadium. But that didn’t matter to Barca since they did a great job all game long and took advantage of their opportunities in the match.

Xavi Hernández opened the score by accomplishing the first goal at minute 5 in a free kick. Seven minutes later Duda tied the game for Malaga by picking up the ball outside the area and waving a shot. However, just six minutes later, things changed again for Barcelona at the 18″, when Messi picked up a clearance from Weligton and scored the second goal for the Culés. On the second part of the match, Xavi appeared again scoring his second goal of the night during the minute 52, putting the game 1-3 in favor of his team Barcelona. Barca kept dominating the rest of the game and its last score was an own goal by Weligton when he turned aside the Dani Alves’ free kick at the 80 minute.

This is Barcelona’s eleven straight victory since the start of the season. FC Barcelona has won 3 games at the Champions League, and 8 in the Spanish League. Now the Barca next opponent in the Champions League is the Swiss team Basel. The game will be played at the home stadium of Barcelona, the Camp Nou, on November 4th. . On the other hand, in the Spanish League Barcelona will play against the 14th place Valladolid on November 8th. With this two games coming up, Barcelona will try to maintain their undefeated draw to add points to the classification of the Champions League and preserve their top spot in La Liga.

Currently, Barcelona has 22 points, followed by Villareal with 21 and Real Madrid and Valencia with 20 each. Team’s manager Pep Guardiola is very pleased with the performance of his players and the attitude they have developed over the pass weeks, but he assure that this doesn’t mean that the team is going to carry away and relax.

«The results come from humility and work and I am very satisfied with my players but would like to do this speech at the end of the season, it still 87 points left. Thinking the game is won before we play it is the danger here. We have to play with humility and respect to our opponents because if not we will be given a scare,» expressed Guardiola.

Now the Barcelona is considered by the fans and the analysts as one of the strongest and favorites’ teams to win La Liga. However, we’ll see if the Barcelona players will maintain their shape and their way of playing throughout the rest of the season. We all hope that with the contribution of Xavi, Messi, Iniesta and the rest of the team, Barcelona will keep their winning spirit and the unification that characterizes the club this year.

The Art of Defence

Defence is an art that the best coaches in the world consider more important than any other aspect of the game. Covering positions, making timely tackles and even springing the offside trap well is key to stopping teams from scoring. After all, what good is a team that can’t defend a 2 or 3 goal lead even.

It was the Italians who decided to take it upon themselves to make defence an art-form, moving away from the physical aspect of defending and bringing in technical prowess. Until the Italians brought finesse into the picture, defending was all about out-muscling the opposition and crunching tackles.

It was the capability to constrict space and restrict movement that led to the rise of the Catenaccio style of play.

HELENIO HERRERA

Not many may remember his name but Helenio Herrera was a French-Argentine player and, later, manager who was one of the biggest names in football coaching during the mid-20th century. Having played for teams like RC Casablanca and Stade Francais, Herrera retired from club football in 1945.

Herrera took up coaching and moved to Spain, where he became the team manager for Real Valladolid, Atletico Madrid, CD Malaga and even the likes of FC Barcelona. It was after his stint for Barcelona, in 1960, that Herrera moved to Inter Milan.

THE RISE OF THE CATENACCIO

It was during his stay at Inter Milan that Herrera decided to modify the way his team defended. He shifted to a 5-3-2 formation to improve his counter attacking style of play. A firm believer in hard work and strong work ethics, Herrera was known as the pioneer of psychological motivational techniques including team pep-talks.

Herrera also introduced the no-smoking & -drinking policy as well as controlling the diet of his players to make them true professionals. Herrera was also known to suspend a player for telling the media, during a press conference, «We came to play in Rome» instead of «We came to win in Rome».

A hard man, Herrera was slightly defensive in his playing style although his form of the Catenaccio was not as defensive as some the future mutations of the formation, when applied by Italian architects.

One of Herrera’s full-backs, the great Giacinto Facchetti, was testimony to the attacking style of Herrera’s Catenaccio that prevailed in that Inter Milan team. The team was built around the defence, with its main role being to absorb the pressure from the opposition before launching lightning-quick counter attacks.

Using his wing backs to overlap the midfield, Herrera completely transformed the way the world looked at attacking football. Not giving away too much at the back, the team became famous for squeezing out 1-0 wins, leading to the nickname Verrou, meaning «Door Bolt».

HERRERA’S LEGACY

Known as «Herrera’s Inter», the team would go on to win the 1963, 65 & 66 league titles, the 1964 & 65 European Champions Cup as well as the Intercontinental cup in both those seasons. Herrera also became the first coach to go on and coach three separate national teams, ending his career with a 48.57% winning record.

In his 908 games as a manager, which included teams like Inter Milan, AS Roma, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and CF Os Belenenses, Herrera lost just 241 games while drawing 226. In his 12-club coaching career, Herrera ended with a negative goal difference only three times – with Real Valladolid (-21), AS Roma (-1) and Rimini (-22). Each team was too weak at the time although Herrera did transform Roma into a championship winning team, getting the 1969 Italian Cup with a sub-standard line-up and his famous Catenaccio style of football.

THE «DOOR BOLT»

Unlike popular conception, the Catenaccio was not built to shut out opposition. The entire concept of play was to allow the opposition to attack, relentlessly even, before suddenly attacking on the counter. The team would play with five at the back, in a «V-shaped» formation, with the Libero or sweeper at the centre. As the opponents entered the «V», their attack would be narrowed down, restricting movement and space.

Once the ball changed possession, the defending team had a wingback on either side, already ahead of the advancing opposition’s midfield. That meant that the team could now push out, rapidly, by playing the ball out to these wingbacks, who would have loads of space to exploit.

EARLY MUTATIONS

While the Catenaccio was, itself, a mutation of the 5-4-1 system invented by Karl Rappan for the Swiss national team, the formation underwent a lot of transformation itself. Teams reverted to the original «Rappan-style» by playing the sweeper just in front of the goalkeeper and stationing a flat back-four in front.

Nereo Rocco, coach of Calcio Padova in the 1950s, was another who exploited the system. With three-flat defenders who man-marked the opposition, Rocco would play a playmaker in the middle, just ahead of the defence, alongside two wingers. While these three weren’t the actual midfield, Rocco’s style would use the sweeper behind the central defence as well, to double-team the stronger players.

The midfield would be in front of these three, with a solitary striker up front, leading to a 1-3-3-3 formation.

While Herrera also focussed on man-marking with four of his defenders, his defence was flexible in that it swung from right or left to make it a flat line on most times. This meant that four defenders, aid by the midfield, would effectively man-mark the opposition, which had already been herded through the middle. That left the remaining fifth defender – always a wingback, free to make runs on the counter.

ENFORCED DOWNFALL

Catenaccio had become the flavour of the month, in the 60s and 70s, catching the fancy of every coach on the world scene. However, it was one man who’s style of play brought Catenaccio to its knees – Rinus Michels.

When faced with the tight man-marking of the Catenaccio, Michels decided to remove the whole concept of playing footballers in fixed positions. He removed the boundaries that separated attackers, midfielders and defenders, teaching all his players to play in all positions. As attackers fell back to the midfield, or even defence, their man-markers were unable to leave their posts and follow in pursuit.

The fact that Michels had the crop of players that he did, to implement such a technique, was the only reason Total Football became a reality.

Catenaccio was no longer the primary choice anywhere as Total Football, or replicas of it, began dismantling defences with their speed and movement. Mediocre coaches, who followed rather than researched, were left with no choice but to fall to the wayside.

CATENACCIO MODIFICATIONS

Coaches who preached the Herrera principle looked to counter Total Football with a modification to the Catenaccio’s man-marking formula. The answer was quite simple, in theory – Zona Mista.

The Zona Mista was a concept that incorporated man-marking and zone-marking into one strong defensive strategy. While the concept still used the four man defence with the roaming sweeper, the difference was in the way the midfield and the fullbacks supported the defence.

The two central defenders, in the heart of the defence, would play zone-marking. The midfield would have a defensive midfielder, who was required to help out the defence by falling back. A central midfielder would play in front of the defensive midfielder while a winger (usually on the right flank), would support in attack.

Two strikers would play up front, one on the wide left, with one in the centre. The position of the wide striker was determined by the position of the winger – both being on opposite flanks. The winger would act as an additional striker while the wide striker would float in to make it a two-pronged attack.

When defending, the wide striker would come in to cover for the central midfielder as the latter would drop into a defensive position.

ZONA MISTA IN REAL LIFE

Italy – 1982

The most famous application of this formation was in the 1982 FIFA World Cup when Italy went into the tournament with this brand new style of football. Gaetano Scirea played the role of the sweeper to perfection while the attacking left back was a young 18-year old, who would later go on to become one of the greatest defenders of all time – Giuseppe Bergomi.

Gabriele Oriali played as the defensive midfielder, just in front of Fulvio Collovati and the man who stopped a young Diego Maradona – Claudio Gentile. Marco Tardelli played as the central midfielder while Bruno Conti was the creative genius behind Italy’s Zona Mista success.

While Antonio Cabrini played at the front wide position, it was Paolo Rossi who came into the main striker’s position.

Italy’s success led to an increased use of the Zona Mista although the application remained mostly in the Italian leagues. Teams, in Europe, found it hard to beat this fantastic combination of man- and zone-marking, keeping the Italians ahead of the rest. However, there was always the need of a great striker to take care of the few chances that this format would create – something that most teams lacked.

Italy – 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004

More recently, Cesare Maldini employed the Catenaccio form of play in Italy’s 1998 FIFA World Cup campaign. Needless to say, Italy played defensively, without creating too many waves, eventually getting kicked out in the Round of 16, through penalties. His successor, Giovanni Trapattoni, also employed the same tactics in the 2002 FIFA World Cup as well as in the 2004 European Championships.

In both cases, Italy failed to make any significant progress although Trapattoni would go on to prove his critics wrong by leading Portuguese side, Benfica to the league title.

Dino Zoff, whose team successfully used the Zona Mista in 1982, was the Italian coach in Euro 2000 when Italy went in with the same tactics. This time, Zoff managed to take the team to the finals of the tournament, losing to France through a Golden Goal.

Greece – 2004

Greece used the same format under Otto Rehhagel, at the 2004 European Championships, and successfully so. Greece won the title with numerous 1-0 wins through the knockout stages, all thanks to a heavily defensive style of play.

BAD PUBLICITY

The Catenaccio was often on the receiving end of criticism from the rest of Europe primarily due to the boring style of football that it promoted. The Italians were said to have made the game «unattractive» however practitioners of this form of football always had results to further their faith in the system.

In most cases, the reason behind the criticism was said to be the inability of most teams to break down such defences, especially in crucial European ties, leading to a loss or a draw that they could ill-afford.

THE MODERN DAY SCENARIO

Catenaccio is a dormant formation today. With both man-marking and the sweeper position going out of style, what with the faster pace and television coming into the picture, teams are rarely known to implement such a format today.

You may see the odd variation of this formation when weaker teams go up against stronger opposition however the success of the Catenaccio or the Zona Mista is largely dependent on the quality of the defenders and the wingbacks.

The more physical format of the Catenaccio finds few followers even in the technical format of the Italian league while other formations, such as the 4-1-2-1-2 (midfield diamond) and even the 4-3-2-1 (Christmas tree) formations can be attributed, albeit loosely, to the Catenaccio.

Teams that go down a man or more, are also known to exhibit similar playing patterns although the true form of Catenaccio remains buried under a pile of demands for attacking play.

MISUSE OF THE TERM

In today’s scenario, you often find commentators, even some pundits, refer to the Italian game as the Catenaccio style of football. The latest example was the game between Barcelona and Inter Milan, at Camp Nou, during the second leg of the 2009-10 UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

Unfortunately, Jose Mourinho’s tactics were nothing like the Catenaccio style, albeit defensive. Down to ten men, Inter simply held a lower midfield to aid their defence, nothing more. They did was what needed and even Barcelona, with all their firepower, couldn’t break through. It has to be said that while Mourinho knew exactly what he was doing, there was absolutely no connection with the Catenaccio style of defence.

Commentators, especially Englishman, are known to refer to the Italian defensive style of football as Catenaccio, irrespective of whether the team follows the format or not. Catenaccio has become synonymous with defensive play although few understand the true meaning of the term, sadly, even the pundits make mistakes.

At the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Italy were down to 10-men while playing Australia in the Round of 16. They defended heavily until a winner came in the form of a Francesco Totti penalty, late in the game. An English newspaper, «The Guardian», famously wrote, «The timidity of Italy’s approach had made it seem that Helenio Herrera, the high priest of Catenaccio, had taken possession of the soul of Marcello Lippi.»

What the reporter failed to notice was that 10-men Italy were playing in a 4-3-2 formation which was just a man short of the regular 4-4-2 that they had started with – Daniele De Rossi, the midfielder who was dismissed.

THE FINAL WORD

Like all good things, Catenaccio also had to come to an end. With its end, like with everything else, rose many new formats that are, till date, being practiced by coaches around the world. While the Catenaccio may have been laid to rest with the modern day television’s demand for exciting football, coaches will always fall back to their learning of this system when struggling with their backs against the wall.

Until the next time a British commentator mentions «Catenaccio» in the wrong place, Happy Defending!!!

FC Barcelona Fixtures Published

With the draw for the Spanish League now published we now know the full details of FC Barcelona’s fixtures for the 2007-2008, listed below:

26 Aug Racing v Barcelona

2 Sep Barcelona v Athletic

16 Sep Osasuna v Barcelona

23 Sep Barcelona v Sevilla

26 Sep Barcelona v Zaragoza

30 Sep Levante v Barcelona

7 Oct Barcelona v At. Madrid

21 Oct Villarreal v Barcelona

28 Oct Barcelona v Almeria

31 Oct Real Valladolid v Barcelona

4 Nov Barcelona v Betis

11 Nov Getafe v Barcelona

25 Nov Barcelona v Recreativo

2 Dec Espanyol v Barcelona

9 Dec Barcelona v Deportivo

16 Dec Valencia v Barcelona

23 Dec Barcelona v Real Madrid

6 Jan Mallorca v Barcelona

13 Jan Barcelona v Murcia

20 Jan Barcelona v Racing

27 Jan Athletic v Barcelona

3 Feb Barcelona v Osasuna

10 Feb Sevilla v Barcelona

17 Feb Zaragoza v Barcelona

24 Feb Barcelona v Levante

2 Mar At. Madrid v Barcelona

9 Mar Barcelona v Villarreal

16 Mar Almeria v Barcelona

23 Mar Barcelona v Real Valladolid

30 Mar Betis v Barcelona

6 Apr Barcelona v Getafe

13 Apr Recreativo v Barcelona

20 Apr Barcelona v Espanyol

27 Apr Deportivo v Barcelona

4 May Barcelona v Valencia

7 May Real Madrid v Barcelona

11 May Barcelona v Mallorca

18 May Murcia v Barcelona

While the season gets off to a fairly easy start, the clash against Real Madrid at the Nou Camp will take place on December 23rd this year, a great time for anyone who want to make the most of a football and last minute shopping weekend, while Barcelona visit Spain’s capital city on May 7th 2007.

We’re still awaiting details of the Champions League draw, which will kick off in September. After losing the League title to Madrid at the last minute and being knocked out of the European title Barcelona’s supporters eagerly await the start of the season to see what difference the new signings, like Thierry Henry, make to FC Barcelona’s fortunes.

Selected Weekend Fixtures Preview

Premiership

Birmingham City vs Arsenal

Arsenal would be looking to bounce back from 2 disappointing results by winning at Birmingham to maintain their 5 point gap or even increase their lead at the top.

Birmingham would feel that if they could get a draw at the Emirates than they can either get the same result or provide a shock against the league leaders but it would not be easy.

Arsenal should win this but with some difficulty.

Liverpool Vs Middlesboro

You never know what you are going to get from Liverpool and especially from their manager. The 1 thing you do know you are not going to get is the same side that beat Inter Milan on Tuesday. Middlesboro have not lost a game this year and would like to keep that run going but if Liverpool play to their full potential they should win. It would not surprise me if this ends in a draw but I really do expect Liverpool to with this game.

Newcastle United Vs Manchester United

Newcastle have not won under Kevin Keegan and after tomorrow, I expect that record to continue as anything other than a Manchester United victory would be a total surprise.

They would not lose 6-0 as they did at Old Trafford but I still expect them to lose against a team that would be buoyant after decent results against Arsenal and Lyon in the champion’s league.

The 1 saving grace for Newcastle is that Manchester United do not always play well immediately after a champions league tie but unfortunately Newcastle do not have the desired quality to trouble the champions.They did get an improbable draw against Manchester United last season and Keegan always wants to beat Ferguson so you never know.

Carling Cup Final

Chelsea Vs Tottenham Hotspurs

Juande Ramos is a past master in winning cup finals but I cannot see them defeating Chelsea on Sunday bearing in mind they played 2 days after Chelsea did in the midweek and also how very organised Chelsea are defensively.

If Ledley King plays then Spurs would stand a slight chance as he provides so much defensive prowess to them but if he does not then I do not give them a chance.

Spurs have all the flair and attacking prowess but Chelsea are a very hard nut to crack and Tottenham have to score 1st to stand any chance.

I would like to see Spurs win the cup but I just cannot see past Chelsea winning it.

SerieA

Roma Vs Fiorentina

This is the game of the weekend in Italy and pits 2 of the most attractive teams against each other.

Roma managed to defeat Real Madrid in the champions league on Tuesday and that would have boosted their confidence after some shaky results whilst Fiorentina defeated Rosenborg to go through to the next phase of the UEFA cup just last night.

The fact that Fiorentina played 2 days after and do not exactly have a very good away record makes me opt firmly towards Roma.

Sampdoria Vs Inter Milan

Inter would be looking to put their 1st defeat in 5 months against Liverpool firmly behind them and I strongly fancy them to beat Sampdoria at Genoa.

Sampdoria, inspired by Antonio Cassano did well to defeat city rivals, Genoa last weekend but I do not see them repeating the trick against Inter unless Inter decide to implode by having a man sent off early again.

Inter do have problems at the back though with Ivan Cordoba ruled out for the season joining Walter Samuel as casualties for the season.

Reginna Vs Juventus

Juventus are coming off 2 excellent results and would be full of confidence when they face relegation threatened Reginna on Saturday evening knowing fully well that a victory would catapult them to 2nd albeit for a few hours.

This would not be easy as Juventus have shown this season that they tend not to win games you fully expect them to and have drawn a lot of games they were expected to win. But I do think they would win this game but not very comfortably.

Milan Vs Palermo

Like Liverpool, you never know what you are going to get and this is not an easy game to call. You would think Milan should win this game but they have drawn far too many home games to consider any game a home banker.

Pato and Kaka are back so that should help and they would also be buoyed by their midweek performance at Arsenal.

I expect a very narrow victory for the Rossoneri.

La Liga

Sevilla Vs Zaragoza

Sevilla are quite formidable at home and Zaragoza are inconsistent everywhere so I would expect Sevilla to win this game.

Barcelona Vs Levante

Barcelona looked like they are coming back into some semblance of form with a number of key players performing well against Celtic including Ronaldinho, Deco, Thierry Henry and most especially Lionel Messi.

Samuel Etoo is back as well and Levante, which is possibly the poorest team in La Liga this season do not have a prayer.

Real Madrid Vs Getafe

This is a local derby with the added spice of Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster coming up against his former club and Getafe manager, Michael Laudrup coming up against a side he graced so well as a player.

Real were unlucky to be defeated at Roma and have a 100% home record in la Liga this season. They also have the additional boost of Robinho returning to the fold so I fully expect them to be too strong for a Getafe side that played yesterday in Uefa Cup defeating AEK Athens 3-0.