Tag Archives: Ajax

How Would Wesley Sneijder Fit In At Tottenham Hotspur?

Sneijder-Spurs

Tottenham could be set for a major coup in the January transfer window after reports in Italy claimed Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder has agreed terms on a move.

Sneijder, who starred for the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup, has been out of the Inter first-team for almost three-months because of a pay dispute. The Serie A giants apparently want him to take a pay cut, and the Netherlands international is willing to leave the club and move on.

Manchester United came very close to signing him in the summer of 2010, and Inter rejected their advances and £30 million plus offer. With the Dutchman struggling with injuries and his form dipping over the last two years, their failure to cash in is looking like an error of judgement. Even so the playmaker is very talented, and is wanted by many clubs across Europe. At 28, he still has plenty to offer and a new challenge may well be just what he needs to get his career back on track.

Fenerbahce are said to have made an enquiry for the Champions League winner, and the two Manchester clubs (City and United) are also in the race, but the reports in Italy have made Tottenham the favourites if the London club can agree a fee – believed to be around £10-12 million.

There is every chance the Dutchman could be a huge success and a right fit at White Hart Lane. Sneijder’s best postion is as an attacking midfielder just behind the striker and Spurs could well be the club to make it work for him.

Andre Villas-Boas’ preferred formation of 4-2-3-1 would see him fit straight into the line-up. With Aaron Lennon on the right and Gareth Bale on the left, the void Rafael van der Vaart vacated for a central attacking midfielder role would be ideal for him. So far, new signings Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey have attempted to fill it but have not been very impressive. With the midfield platform of Mousa Dembele and Sandro behind him, Sneijder would have ample of time and space to dictate games.

So, if the opportunity to bring the former Ajax and Real Madrid star to White Hart Lane crops up, as it has, then Tottenham should grab it with both hands.

The two big issues Spurs will face in trying to secure his signature is the present lack of Champions League football and his huge wage demands. But the Dutchman sees Tottenham as club on the rise and if Spurs can satisfy Emmanuel Adebayor’s demands – who was earning almost the same at City as Sneijder is doing at Inter – then why not Sneijder’s. With Daniel Levy at the negotiating table the fans can remain optimistic about and can be sure that they won’t pay over the odds for the midfielder.

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Champions League Permutations

ucl-permutations

Just one round of fixtures remain in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, with 13 teams having already qualified for the last-16. 

All the four Spanish teams are through to the knockout stages along with Arsenal & Manchester United, and with just three places up for grabs holders Chelsea are one of the six teams in contention on 4 and 5 December.

Qualified for the last 16: FC Porto, Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke 04, Arsenal, Malaga (GW), AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund (GW), Real Madrid, Shakhtar Dontesk, Bayern Munich, Valencia, Barcelona (GW), Manchester United (GW).

GW – Group Winners 

Can still qualify: Juventus or Chelsea; Benfica or Celtic; Galatasaray or CFR Cluj (in each case losing team will play in the UEFA Europa League).

Confirmed in the UEFA Europa League: Dynamo Kiev, Olympiakos, BATE Borisov.

Can qualify for UEFA Europa League: Zenit St Petersburg or Anderlecht; Ajax or Manchester City (in each case the losing team will be knocked out of Europe)

Knocked out of Europe: Dinamo Zagreb, Montpellier, Nordsjælland, Spartak Moscow, LOSC Lille, Braga.

Here lets have a look the the permutations for all the eight groups..

4TH DECEMBER

GROUP A

Paris Saint-Germain (12pts) v FC Porto (13), Dinamo Zagreb (0) v Dynamo Kiev (4)

Porto have qualified with the most number of points after five games and will clinch the first place in the group win a win or a draw in Paris.

PSG are also through but must beat Porto to finish top.

Dynamo Kiev will transfer to the knockout stages of the Europa League

Dinamo Zagreb are out of Europe.

GROUP B

Olympiakos (6pts) v Arsenal (10), Montpellier (1) v Schalke 04 (11)

Schalke  are through and will win the group if they get all three points in France or Arsenal are denied a win in Greece due to their head-to-head superiority.

Arsenal have qualified for the knockout stages for the 13th year running but to top the group, they must win at Olympiakos and hope Montpellier don’t lose to Schalke.

Olympiakos will transfer to the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Montpellier are out of Europe.

GROUP C

Malaga (11pts) v Anderlecht (4), AC Milan (8) v Zenit St Petersburg (4)

Malaga in their debut season in the Champions League have qualified as group winners due to their head-to-head superiority over Milan.

Milan are through as runners-up of the group.

Zenit lie third on goal difference as they are level on head-to-head with Anderlecht, with whom they fighting for a place in the last-32 of the Europa League. If the two matches in the group end in a draw, the Russian wll qualify for the Europa League due to the superior goal difference.

Anderlecht will qualify for the Europa League knockout stages if they pick up more points than Zenit or overturn their goal difference.

GROUP D

Borussia Dortmund (11pts) v Manchester City (3), Real Madrid (8) v Ajax (4)

Dortmund have qualified as group winners due to their head-to-head superiority over the reigning Spanish champions.

Real Madrid are through as runners-up, the 16th year in a row they have made it through their group.

Ajax will qualify for the Europa League if they win in Madrid or if Manchester City fail to win at Dortmund due to the Dutch champions’ head-to-head superiority.

Manchester City will qualify for the last-32 of the the Europa League if they win in Germany and Ajax fail to win in Spain.

5TH DECEMBER

GROUP E

Shakhtar Donetsk (10pts) v Juventus (9), Chelsea (7) v Nordsjælland (1)

Shakhtar are through and will clinch first place with a win or draw in their final game.

Juventus will finish first with a win against Shakhtar, and will be through with a draw even if Chelsea win against Nordsjælland.

Chelsea need to win their final game and hope the Italian champions lose as their head-to-head record is inferior to both teams above them.

Nordsjælland are out of Europe.

GROUP F

Bayern Munich (10pts) v BATE Borisov (6), LOSC Lille (3) v Valencia (10)

Bayern are through to the last-16 and top on head-to-head record ahead of Valencia. The Germans will win the group if they beat BATE or secure as many points as Valencia.

Valencia are through but must pick up more points than Bayern to finish first in the group.

BATE will finish third and enter the Europa League as their head-to-head record is superior to Lille’s.

Lille are out of Europe.

GROUP G

Barcelona (12pts) v Benfica (7), Celtic (7) v Spartak Moscow (3)

Barcelona are through as group winners

Benfica will be through with a win in Spain, or as long as they pick up the same number of points as Celtic, as they have the head-to-head superiority over the Scottish champions.

Celtic must pick up more points than Benfica to overtake them and make in through to the last-16.

Spartak are out of Europe.

GROUP H

Manchester United (12pts) v CFR Cluj (7), SC (3) v Galatasaray (7)

Manchester United are through as group winners.

Galatasaray are second ahead of Cluj on head-to-head record. They will qualify with a win in Portugal or as long as they pick up as many points as the Romanians.

Cluj must secure more points than Galatasaray to qualify for the Round of 16.

Braga are out of Europe.

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 4

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting third weekend in the Premier League. Aston Villa, Arsenal and Tottenham have provided two players each, while there is one each from Stoke, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Fulham.

Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

The American completely justified Paul Lambert’s decision to select him ahead of the experienced Shay Given with some stunning saves. The saves from Nathan Dyer and Ashley Williams were the key moments in the match and the difference between the two sides.

Matthew Lowton (Aston Villa)

The 23-year-old was a perfect example of Lambert’s policy of playing youngsters who are eager to establish themselves in the top flight. He scored an absolute belter as his first Premier League goal and also played his part in Villa’s first clean sheet of the season to mark a performance to remember.

Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)

It was not at all an easy task of keeping Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko at bay for the whole match, but the Stoke skipper did it. His goal-line clearance denied the reigning Premier League of all three points. A battling performance by the former Manchester United player and a future England regular.

Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

The former Ajax skipper has settled nicely with life in Tottenham’s defence and had little trouble dealing with Reading’s Pavel Pogrebnyak. The Belgium international was equal to the Russian’s goal threat and snuffed out the Royals’ main attacking option. He will only be disappointed of not keeping a clean-sheet.

Alexander Buttner (Manchester United)

Put in a Man-of-the-Match performance on his debut. He was a big threat going forward but never ignored his defensive duties. He assisted Chicharito’s goal with a shot across goal and then went past three defenders to open his own account with a shot from a very acute angle. His display surely must have given Patrice Evra some nightmares.

Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)

What a signing this man has been for the Gunners. Completely bossed the midfield and his incisive passing effortlessly tore the Saints apart on Saturday. The Spainish international is becoming a regular in the Premier League Team of the Week along with Jan Vertonghen and has created a total of 18 chances this season – the most by any place.

Javi Garcia (Manchester City)

Excellent debut by the former Benfica star at the Britannia Stadium. The defensive midfielder is not known for his scoring but he did pop up with a headed equaliser and also came close to scoring a second but was only denied by a very good Asmir Begovic save.

Lukas Podolski (Arsenal)

The German international opened his goal scoring account for his new club – Arsenal against Liverpool at Anfield before the international break and continue his goal scoring form with a cracking free-kick against Southampton to double the Gunners’ lead in the first half.

Demba Ba (Newcastle United)

The Senegal striker started from the bench but he made the difference when he came on at half time for the second half. He scored within minutes of his arrival and then did the same again in the last minute to secure the share of points against Everton at Goodison Park.

Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham)

In his home debut for Fulham, he put in a classy performance to help Fulham beat West Brom at Craven Cottage. He opened the scoring with a curling effort and then sent his former Manchester United team-mate Ben Foster the wrong way from the penalty spot. Looking like a very good signing for the Cottagers.

Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur)

A sterling performance by the in-form Englishman, who again proved his finishing abilities. He led the line superbly and grabbed a deserved brace to see-off Reading and earn Spurs their first win of the new season. His first goal was a neat first-time finish, while his second one was with a superb run and finish.

Top Five Keepers Who Can Replace Reina At Liverpool

According to the reports, Liverpool have given Pepe Reina until January to prove his ability to fit into Brendan Rodgers’ new system, or face being sold.

Reina’s role as Spain’s second choice keeper has already been given to Barcelona’s Victor Valdes and his club career looks in danger of following the same path, but who could replace him at Anfield? Here, IntoTheTopCorner has a look at the top five candidates..

1. MICHEL VORM (SWANSEA CITY)

The Dutch international has been very impressive since moving to the Premier League from FC Utrecht a year ago. Vorm kept 13 clean sheets in 37 appearances last season and his performances won him the Fans’ Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and the Away Players’ Player of the Year awards. The 28-year-old worked under the current Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers at the Liberty Stadium last season. Good reflexes, good ball distribution and comfortable with ball at his feet, Vorm fits into Rodgers’s system perfectly.

2. CRAIG GORDON (FREE AGENT)

The Scotish international was once famously hailed as one of the best keepers in the world by Gianluigi Buffon, but with him currently being a free agent, it looks like no one is willing to take a gamble on the injury-prone former Sunderland stopper. Though a move to Liverpool would be a risk for the club, should they keep him injury free and get the best out of him, then it could be the bargain buy of the year.

3. JACK BUTLAND (BIRMINGHAM CITY)

Jack Butland’s performances for Team GB at the London Olympics 2012 has done justice to his hype that had build around him after being selected in the England squad for the Euros. The youngster has only played first-team football in League Two while on loan at Cheltenham Town, but was tipped for a move to one of the top Premier League sides this summer. Signing Butland would be a major gamble due to his age and experience, but he could develop into one of the top keepers in the world and occupy the number one spot for many years to come.

4. MAARTEN STEKELENBURG (AS ROMA)

The Dutch number one inherited the jersey from the former Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar upon his retirement from national football. Since then Stekelenburg has improved steadily and has also made AS Roma’s number one jersey his own ousting current Liverpool back-up Doni at the Stadio Olimpico. With the rise of Tim Krul in the last year or so, the Roma man may need to move elsewhere to fight off the challenge for the Netherlands number one jersey and a move Liverpool could be the best opportunity. He being a product of the Ajax academy, it won’t be difficult for him to adjust to Rodgers’ style of football.

5. MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN (BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH)

The German has got many scouts from across Europe excited with his performances in the Bundesliga over the past season. Just 20 years old, Ter Stegen has already made his debut for the senior Germany side and also saved a penalty from Lionel Messi in the recent international freindly. The young keeper forced himself into Gladbach’s starting XI while still a teenager and is a very exciting prospect for the future. His style of goalkeeping has been frequently compared to the great German keeper – Oliver Kahn

Premier League’s Twenty Most Expensive Transfers Of The Summer

The summer transfer window has shut down and as expected the Premier League clubs were the most busiest this summer, spending a total of around £480 million. In our today’s Picture Special, we look back at the twenty most expensive transfer deals of the season.

Eden Hazard (LOSC Lille to Chelsea – £35.2m)

Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid – £30m)

Oscar (SC Internacional to Chelsea – £25m

Robin van Persie (Arsenal to Manchester United – £24m)

Joe Allen (Swansea City to Liverpool – £16.7m)

Santi Cazorla (Malaga to Arsneal – £16.7m)

Moussa Dembele (Fulham to Tottenham Hotspur – £16.7m)

Javi Garcia (Benfica to Manchester City – £15.8m)

Alex Song (Arsenal – Barcelona – £15m)

Steven Fletcher (Wolves to Sunderland – £13.3m)

Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund – Manchester United – £13.2m)

Jack Rodwell (Everton to Manchester City – £13.2m)

Matija Nastasic (Fiorentina to Manchester City – £13m + Stefan Savic)

Gaston Ramirez (Bologna to Southampton – £12m)

Fabio Borini (AS Roman to Liverpool – £11.7m)

Lukas Podolski (FC Koln to Arsenal – £11.4m)

Adam Johnson (Manchester City to Sunderland – £11m)

Jan Vertonghen (Ajax to Tottenham Hotspur – £11m)

Matt Jarvis (Wolves to West Ham United – £10.7m)

Olivier Giroud (Montpellier to Arsenal – £10.7)

A Complete Guide To The UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw

The draw for the UEFA Champions League 2012/13 group stage takes place today in Monaco, with 32 teams set to discover their fate in the world’s elite club competition.

Last season’s winners Chelsea will be hoping to become the first team to defend their European crown this season in London, since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990, back in the old format of the European Cup. Standing in their way are the usual pre-tournament favourites Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, while big-spending Paris Saint-Germain and the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City are being tipped by many as serious contenders.

The draw will start at 16:45 BST and you can follow it LIVE on Sky Sports and BBC. In the meantime, here is a complete guide which will help you know everything you need to know.

WHERE WILL THE DRAW TAKE PLACE?

The UEFA Champions League group stage draw will take place at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. It will also host the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award ceremony, along with the UEFA Europa League group stage draw which will take place tomorrow.

Champions League winners Chelsea and Europa League winners Atletico Madrid are already in town for their UEFA Super Cup match tomorrow night at the Stade Louis II, and both will give a pre-match press conferences today at the venue before the draw.

The draw will begin at 17:45 local time, which translates to 11:45 Eastern time and 21:15 Indian time.

UEFA president Michel Platini is sure to be present along with General Secretary Gianni Infantino (who will do the draw), the usual array of esteemed former players, an ambassador for the 2013 Wembley final and the representatives from all the 32 clubs in the draw.

WHAT ARE THE SEEDINGS?

The lineup and seedings are complete for today’s UEFA Champions League group stage draw. The 32 qualifiers have been divided into four pots based on the UEFA coefficients, which are in turn determined by a mixture of the team’s own performance in Europe over the past five seasons, as well as the strength of their country’s league. Here are the seeding for all the 32 teams:

POT 1
Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Porto, AC Milan

POT 2
Valencia, Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg, Schalke, Manchester City, Braga, Dynamo Kiev

POT 3
Olympiacos, Anderlecht, Ajax, Juventus, Spartak Moscow, Paris Saint-Germain, Galatasaray, Lille

POT 4
Celtic, Borussia Dortmund, BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb, CFR Cluj, Montpellier, Malaga, Nordsjaelland

HOW DOES THE DRAW WORK?

The Champions League group stage comprises eight groups of four teams. A team from each pot is drawn and placed into one of the eight groups available. This is done by pot and not “one at a time”. That is to say, all the teams from pot one will be placed into a group, and then pot two, and so on down to the fourth and final pot.

There are some restrictions, though. Teams from the same country cannot be drawn together, and even prior to that there will be two ‘sets’ of groups decided for the purpose of television rights. For example, the four teams from England cannot all be drawn in the same set.

Potential Group of Death – The champions of Spain, England, Italy and Germany could all be drawn in the same group. That means, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund could all end up in the same group.

WHAT IS THE FORMAT AND THE SCHEDULE?

The four teams in each group will face each other home and away. This means there will be a total of six “matchdays” in each group spread across a Tuesday and Wednesday. The top two teams from each group advance to the first knockout round (Round of 16). The third-place finishers in each group enter the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

From the last 16 untill the semi-finals, clubs play two matches against each other on a home-and-away basis with the club scoring the greater aggregate of goals qualifing for the next round. Away goals and then penalties will be used to determine the winner if there is a draw. In the last 16, group winners play runners-up other than teams from their own group or country, while from the quarter-finals on the draw is free.

The final is decided by a single match, which this season will be played at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 25th May 2013.

Group Stage, Matchday 1 – 18/19 Sep
Group Stage, Matchday 2 – 02/03 Oct
Group Stage, Matchday 3 – 23/24 Oct
Group Stage, Matchday 4 – 06/07 Nov
Group Stage, Matchday 5 – 20/21 Nov
Group Stage, Matchday 6 – 04/05 Dec

Round of 16, 1st Leg – 12/13 Feb & 19/20 Feb
Round of 16, 2nd Leg – 05/06 Mar & 12/13 Mar
Quarter-Finals, 1st Leg – 02/03 Apr
Quarter-Finals, 2nd Leg – 09/10 Apr
Semi-Finals, 1st Leg – 23/24 Apr
Semi-Finals, 2nd Leg – 01/02 May

Final (Wembley Stadium) – 25 May

WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES?

Barcelone finished trophyless last season as they lost their League title to Real Madrid and were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Champions League by eventual winners Chelsea. But as always, they are the favourites with most bookmakers to win the Champions League this season under new boss Tito Vilanova.

Real Madrid are a close second, with Jose Mourinho hoping to win his first Champions League title with the Whites, while Manchester United and Manchester City are next in the line. Holders Chelsea are placed at 14/1 odds to defend their crown along with runners-up Bayern Munich.

Moneybags Paris Saint-Germain and Italian champions Juventus are priced as high as 18/1 by the bookies, while Arsenal, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund are in the next group back.

10 Things You Should Know About Manchester United’s Latest Signing – Alexander Buttner

Manchester United confirmed yesterday that they have completed the signing of Alexander Buttner from Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem for an undisclossed fee.

The Dutch defender, who was linked with a move to Southampton early in the summer, passed his medical on Tuesday, agreed personal terms and signed a five-year contract at Old Trafford until 2017.

His new manager Sir Alex Ferguson told the club’s official site:

“Alexander is one of the best young left backs in Europe and we’re delighted to sign him. He’s someone we’ve been watching for a while now. He gives us some really exciting options in that position.”

The 23-year-old couldn’t hide his excitement about the move, he told manutd.com:

“Joining Manchester United is one of the best days of my life. It’s a team I have admired for many years now and I can’t wait to join my teammates and play my part in helping the club be successful.”

Buttner, who can also play as a left winger, a defensive midfielder, an attacking midfielder and as a right-back, will add much needed depth to the defence and will be a pretty good cover for Patrice Evra. If the £3.9m fee on this move is to be believed, then Manchester United have got themselves a pretty solid bargain here.

With the move now officially completed and announced by the 19 times English champions, here are the ten things you should know about Alexander Buttner.

  • Alexander was born on 11th Feb, 1989 in Doetinchem, other footballers to hail from the Dutch town include former Cardiff and Celtic defender Glenn Loovens and ex Dutch international and Man City midfielder Paul Bosvelt.
  • After impressing with local side VV Doetinchem, Alexander joined the famous youth academy of Ajax.
  • After leaving the Dutch giants aged 16 he moved back to Gelderland, and despite being from Doetinchem, home of De Graafschap he signed instead for rivals Vitesse Arnhem.
  • After making his debut in 2008 he went on to score his first goal for the club against FC Volendam in a 3-1 victory.
  • He has since gone on to make 107 league appearances for Vitesse scoring 10 goals.
  • Alexander is a versatile player who has operated on the wing, holding midfield, attacking midfield and a right back but has more recently established himself as a left back.
  • He was included in the 36 man preliminary squad for The Netherlands disastrous Euro 2012 campaign but was not taken to the tournament itself.
  • He has therefore yet to make his full Dutch debut but has represented the Netherlands at youth team levels.
  • In July it seemed certain Alexander would sign for Southampton with a fee agreed between both sides and a medical being, seemingly, the only obstacle. However an unnamed third party requested a portion of the transfer fee and the deal collapsed.
  • After failing in their attempts to sign Leighton Baines, The Red Devils have moved to take the 23 year old to Old Trafford to provide backup, and competition, for Patrice Evra.