Monday, August 22, 2016

All the very latest football news and gossip across Europe!

With the new season well underway and the summer transfer window slamming shut in just 10 days' time, many clubs across Europe are frantically trying to tie-down players to new deals or are looking to bring in new players to fill any voids in their squads!

Here is a round up of all the latest football news/gossip across Europe today, which includes the likes of: Chelsea, Arsenal, Barcelona, Zinedine Zidane, Arsene Wenger, Sam Allardyce, Liverpool, Tottenham, Valencia, Danny Drinkwater, Andriy Yarmolenko, Giorgio Chiellini, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Ajax to name but a few!

Sam Allardyce has told Sky Sports News HQ that Joe Hart will be named in his first England squad on Monday. The Manchester City man has been dropped by manager Pep Guardiola, and is set to leave the Etihad before the end of the window -

Chelsea are set to make a £25m bid for Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini - The Sun

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane insists James Rodriguez is happy at the club, despite links in the British press with a move to Chelsea and Arsenal -

Santos striker Gabriel Barbosa could be set to link up with Brazilian team-mate Neymar at Barcelona, with Manchester United and Leicester also interested - The Sun

Arsene Wenger has admitted he hopes Arsenal's signing of Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi "will be done" before the transfer deadline - SFR Sport (French TV station)

Valencia say defender Shkodran Mustafi won't be sold in this transfer window. Mustafi has already agreed in principle to move to Arsenal. The defender has a £43m buyout clause and is in the Valencia's squad for their first La Liga game of the season against Las Palmas tonight -

Arsenal may have to spend £50m on acquiring defender Shkodran Mustafi - Daily Mirror

Tottenham are keen on signing Barcelona forward Munir. The 20-year-old has also reportedly gathered interest from Everton and Stoke, and is rated at around £13m - Sport (Spanish daily sports newspaper)

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is weighing up a move for Dynamo Kiev winger Andriy Yarmolenko - The Sun

England midfielder Danny Drinkwater, 26, will become the latest Leicester City player to sign a new contract this week, thought to be worth £90,000-a-week - Daily Telegraph and

There have been plenty of reports over the weekend linking Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes with a move to the Championship, with Wolves at the front of the queue to sign him. 'Boro paid £12million to sign him from Blackburn last January but he was left out of the squad for the win at Sunderland yesterday -

Tottenham have made a number of offers for Espanyol's 21 year-old Spanish goalkeeper Pau Lopez -

Sunderland have bid £3m for Barnsley defender Alfie Mawson as they prepare to lose Lamine Kone - Daily Mail

Newcastle forward Siem De Jong has joined PSV Eindhoven on a season-long loan -

Tim Krul is set to sign a new one-year contract with Newcastle, but will leave the club on loan to join Ajax. The goalkeeper is reportedly wanted as a replacement for Jasper Cillessen, who is close to joining Barcelona - Daily Mail

West Brom are keen on signing Southampton's forgotten man Jay Rodriguez on loan. Hull City are also interested - Daily Telegraph and

West Brom have signed Everton defender Brendan Galloway on a season-long loan deal -

Hull City have offered Abel Hernandez a new bumper deal in an effort to keep the striker at the club. The 26-year-old has been linked with a move to Newcastle and Aston Villa - Hull Daily Mail

Nottingham Forest face a battle to keep hold of teenage midfielder Oliver Burke before the transfer window closes, with Arsenal, Sunderland and West Ham all circling the Scotland winger - Daily Mirror

Hull City caretaker-manager Mike Phelan has urged the club to allow him to beef up the squad after their fine opening to the Premier League campaign - Daily Mail

Arsenal are interested in signing Porto midfielder Yacine Brahimi, after failing to sign Leicester City star Mahrez. The Dragoes value him around £35milliom - Daily Mirror

Phil Jones could be sold to free up enough space for Southampton defender Jose Fonte to join Manchester United - Daily Express

Championship side Wolves have signed Cameron Borthwick-Jackson on a season-long loan from Manchester United, as well as Ola John from Benfica -

Fiorentina want to sign West Ham's 24 year-old Spanish midfielder Pedro Obiang - Gazzetta dello Sport (Italian newspaper)

Liverpool are poised to sell 23 year-old defender Tiago Ilori to Olympiakos for £5milliom. The defender has made just three appearances since joining from Sporting Lisbon in 2013 - The Sun.

Atletico Madrid are interested in 22 year-old Portuguese born Monaco midfielder Bernardo Silva - AS (Spanish daily sports newspaper)

Antoine Griezmann admits he would be tempted by a move to the Premier League if he left Atletico Madrid - The Guardian

Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado, 28, is expected to complete a permanent move from Chelsea to Juventus in the next few days - ESPN

Los Angeles Galaxy have ruled out a move for Joleon Lescott, with the 34-year-old defender seeking a way out of Championship club Aston Villa - Daily Mirror

Leon Britton has signed a one-year extension to his Swansea contract, keeping him at the club until 2018 -

Former QPR and Spurs midfielder Adel Taarabt wants to move to Marseille. The 27-year-old, currently at Benfica, is desperate to leave the club and "return home" - France Football (French football news website)

FC Porto have convinced Portugal Under-21 striker Andre Silva, 20, to sign to a new five-year contract - ESPN

Reading manager Jaap Stam is hoping to sign defender Tyler Blackett from Manchester United

Liverpool set the highest possession rating for a losing team in the Premier League with 80.6 per cent against Burnley at the weekend - Daily Mail

Cheltenham Town are set to sign free agent forward Jeffery Monakana -

Friday, August 05, 2016

My Predictions for the 2016/17 Football Season and the Betting Odds

National League:

Winners: Tranmere Rovers 6/1

Promotion by winning the Play-offs: Lincoln City 14/1

# Sky Bet odds correct at time of writing.


Sky Bet League Two:

Winners: Plymouth Argyle 3/1

Runners-up: Portsmouth (4/1 to win League Two and Evens to win promotion)

Promotion by winning the Play-offs: Doncaster Rovers 10/1, Luton Town 11/1, Leyton Orient 11/1 or Carlisle 14/1

Dark Horses: Cheltenham, Colchester and Mansfield

Relegation: Newport 3/1 and Crawley 3/1

Top Scorers: John Akinde (Barnet) 11/1, Andy Williams (Doncaster) 11/1 or Pádraig Amond 20/1 e/w (Hartlepool)

Players to Watch: Dan Holman (Cheltenham), Joe Pigott (Cambridge), Ben Davies (Grimsby), Carl Baker (Portsmouth), Tommy Rowe (Doncaster), Jake Gray (Luton) and Jay Simpson (Leyton Orient)

# Sky Bet odds correct at time of writing.
* Each Way: 1/4 for first 4 places


Sky Bet League One:

Winners: Sheffield United 5/1

Runners-up: Millwall (10/1 to win League One, 3/1 to win promotion)

Promotion by winning the Play-offs: Charlton 12/1, MK Dons 12/1, Bradford 12/1 or Scunthorpe 14/1

Dark Horses: Chesterfield, AFC Wimbledon and Port Vale

Relegation: Oldham 6/4, Bury 9/4 and Southend 11/4

Top Scorers: Billy Sharp (Sheffield Utd) 6/1, Lee Gregory (Millwall) 8/1, Nicky Ajose (Charlton) 8/1, Matt Taylor (Bristol Rovers) 12/1, Paddy Madden (Scunthorpe) 12/1 or Kane Hemmings (Oxford Utd) 16/1 e/w

Players to Watch: Che Adams (Sheffield Utd), Gregg Wylde (Millwall), Lyle Taylor (AFC Wimbledon), Jerome Binnom-Williams (Peterborough) and Harry Beautyman (Northampton)

# Sky Bet odds correct at time of writing.
* Each Way: 1/4 for first 4 place


Sky Bet Championship:

Winners: Norwich City 9/1

Runner-up: Newcastle Utd (7/4 to win the Championship, 4/7 for promotion)

Promotion by winning the Play-offs: Derby 9/1, Brighton 11/1, Sheffield Wednesday 11/1 or Reading 22/1

Dark Horses: Bristol City and Birmingham

Relegation: Rotherham 13/8, Barnsley 11/4 and Blackburn 4/1

Top Scorers: Ross McCormack (Aston Villa) 10/1, Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle) 12/1, Glenn Murray (Brighton) 16/1 e/w, Britt Assombalonga (Nottingham Forest) 20/1 e/w, Gary Hooper (Sheffield Wed), 25/1 e/w or Steven Fletcher (Sheffield Wed) 25/1 e/w

Players to Watch: Kieran Agard and Jonathan Kodjia (Bristol City), Scott Hogan (Brentford), Sam Mantom (Scunthorpe), Will Hughes (Derby County), Tom Bradshaw (Barnsley) and Kemar Roofe (Leeds Utd)

# Sky Bet odds correct at time of writing.
* Each Way: 1/4 for first 4 places


Barclays Premier League:

Winners: Chelsea 5/1

Runners-up: Manchester City

Europe (Champions League qualification): Manchester United and Liverpool

Premier League Top 4 Exact Order: Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd and Liverpool 200/1

Premier League Top 4 Any Order: Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd and Liverpool 9/1

Premier League Winner and Top Goalscorer: Chelsea and Aguero 28/1

Dark Horses: Watford and Stoke City

Relegation: Hull City 4/6, West Brom 9/4 and Sunderland 5/2

Premier League Relegation Treble: Hull, West Brom and Sunderland all to be relegated 40/1

Top scorers: Sergio Aguero 7/2, Zlatan Ibrahimovic 9/1, Jamie Vardy 14/1 e/w, Michy Batshuayi 14/1 e/w and Daniel Sturridge 20/1 e/w

Players to Watch: Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace), Joe Allen (Stoke), Andre Gray (Burnley), Ahmed Musa (Leicester), Calum Wilson and Nathan Aké (Bournemouth), Viktor Fischer (Middlesbrough), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United), Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Southampton)

1st Manager to Leave: Francesco Guidolin (Swansea) 5/1

LMA Manager of the Year: Antonio Conte (Chelsea) 7/1 or Slaven Billic (West Ham) 16/1

# Sky Bet odds correct at time of writing.
* Each Way: 1/4 for first 4 places


Monday, August 01, 2016

Babes of the Month - Team GB's Olympic Beauties

Tonia Couch

Tonia competing at the World Championships in Barcelona 2013

Tonia Couch was born in Plymouth on 20th May 1989 and is a British Olympic diver. In February 2002, she became the youngest girl ever to qualify for the lottery funded Junior Olympic Programme, when she took bronze in the Junior girls platform event at the British Championships.

In 2008 and 2009, her 8th places at the Olympics and then the World Championships (the best result by a British female for 20 years), have secured her place in diving history.

She competed at the 2009 World Championships in Rome and at her second Commonwealth Games in 2010 in Delhi. At the 2010 Commonwealth games her 10m Synchro partnership with Sarah Barrow gained them fourth place.

Tonia reached the World final again in 2011, finishing ninth in the 10m Platform. In Synchro partnership with Sarah Barrow the pair finished fourth again.

Couch competed at her fifth consecutive World Championships in the summer of 2013 in Barcelona, finishing ninth in the 10m Platform and fifth with Barrow in the 10m Synchro.

In the 2014 season she finished fourth at the World Cup in Shanghai, then combined with Sarah Barrow to win a silver medal at the Commonwealth games held in Glasgow, 2014.

At the March 2015 World Series event in Dubai, Tonia took third place in the 10m platform event

Tonia represents Plymouth Diving and is coached by Andy Banks. Tonia is a member of Team GB's diving squad and will compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

You can follow Tonia on Twitter and Instagram

Amber Hill

Amber Jo Hill was born 21st August 1997 in Windsor, Berkshire. She is an English sport shooter who specializes in the skeet.

The gorgeous petite 5ft 2in blonde, who uses Barbie-like pink cartridges, was introduced to the sport by her grandfather and began practising at her local firing range from the age of 10.

In 2013, Hill made her own shooting history by becoming the sport's youngest ever winner (aged 15) at the ISSF World Cup series and Amber was had also named the BBC's Young Sports Personality of the Year 2013.

She has won a total of three gold medals in a major international competition, spanning the ISSF World Cup series (2013 and 2015), and the inaugural European Games held in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2015.

A member of the British national team, Hill trains under the tutelage of her personal coach Joe Neville at E.J. Churchill Shooting Ground in Wycombe. Amber is a member of Team GB's shooting squad and will compete in the women's skeet at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

You can follow Amber on Twitter and Instagram

Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Katarina in hurdles action during the European Indoor Championships in Prague 2015

Katarina Johnson-Thompson was born in Liverpool on 9th January 1993, and is an English track and field athlete specialising in the heptathlon.

She represented Great Britain in the heptathlon at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, finishing 15th, then KJT finished fifth at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow.

In the Long jump, she is the 2012 World Junior champion and the 2014 World Indoor silver medallist. In 2015, she became the European Indoor champion in the pentathlon with a British record of 5000 points. She also holds the British high jump record, with a height of 1.97 m in 2015, and the British indoor long jump record, with a distance of 6.93m.

Johnson-Thompson represents Liverpool Harriers and is coached by Mike Holmes. Katarina is a member of Team GB's women's track and field squad and will compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

You can follow KJT on Twitter and Instagram

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

All the very latest football news and gossip across Europe!

The European Championships are over.
Clubs across Europe are preparing for the start of the new season, which begins in just a couple of weeks! Some clubs are away on pre-season tours, others are preparing a little closer to home but every club is looking to strengthen their squads.

Here is a round up of all the latest football news/gossip across Europe today, which includes the likes of: The FALeicester City, Manchester City, Paul Pogba, Saido Berahino, Georginio Wijnaldum, Manchester United, Juventus, Crystal Palace, Diego Costa, Arda Turan, Alvaro Negredo, West Ham, Chelsea, Newcastle, Loic Remy and Robin Van Persie to name but a few!

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri says reigning PFA Players' Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez wants to remain with the Premier League champions -

Manchester City will move for Leicester City and Algeria forward Riyad Mahrez, 25, if they fail to sign Schalke's 20 year-old Germany winger Leroy Sane - French Football News‎

It is no secret that Manchester United are interested in Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba and have Manchester United have had an £85m bid for the midfielder rejected by Turin club. An Italian newspaper have taken things one step further and say that he will be joining United, for a fee of €125m euros (£104.9m) - Corriere dello Sport (Italian newspaper)

In France they are saying a deal has been agreed for Paul Pogba to return to Manchester United from Juventus. Apparently negotiations will now be formalised over the final price and it is thought it could be €120m euros. It is suggested it could be completed in a ‘matter of days’ - L’Equipe (French daily newspaper)

Juventus want Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic and Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko to replace Paul Pogba should he leave the club this summer. The Blues are not willing to part with the Serbia international Matic for anything less than €30m (£25.2m), while Newcastle want €41.7m (£35m) for France international Sissoko - Gazzetta dello Sport (Italian newspaper)

New Bayern Munich head coach Carlo Ancelotti says he will not allow striker Robert Lewandowski to leave for Real Madrid - Sportbild (German sports daily newspaper)

Talks are ongoing between Stoke and Liverpool with a £13 million fee agreed to take Joe Allen to the Britannia Stadium -

Olivier Giroud is unlikely to leave Arsenal this summer, according to his agent Michael Manuello. Uncertainty has surrounded the 29-year-old's future, with reports suggesting he could be on his way to Napoli with Gonzalo Higuain potentially heading to the Emirates Stadium - Evening Standard

Atletico Madrid are the only club to have 'bid' for Arsenal target Gonzalo Higuain, according to Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, although Italian champions Juventus Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are all 'keen' on the striker -

20 year-old defender Rob Holding's transfer from Bolton Wanderers to Arsenal will be completed in the next few days -

Former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has been heavily linked with a return to the Premier League this summer, after spending a year in Turkey with Fenerbache.
It is reported that Stoke and Middlesbrough are in pole position for the 32-year-old's signature, after West Ham turned down the opportunity to bring him back to London - The Mirror

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has said that West Brom have rejected more than one offer for 22-year-old striker Saido Berahino, which reports suggest could have reached £20m. Crystal Palace and Watford are also interested in Berahino -

Chelsea have emerged as favourites to sign Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata - The Sun

Alvaro Negredo will join up with Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough squad in Spain today. The Valencia striker has agreed a one-year loan deal with an option for Boro to make the deal permanent next summer. The former Man City frontman will have his medical with the Middlesbrough doctors out in Marbella -

However Middlesbrough's pursuit of Borussia Dortmund defender Neven Subotic has broken down, and the defender will travel back to Germany. Boro had agreed a fee of around £8m with Dortmund for the Serbia international and he was shown around the club's facilities nearly two weeks ago -

Scans have revealed that Michael Dawson has sustained significant damage to the medial collateral ligament in his knee. The Hull City defender is expected to be out of action for three months -

Atletico Madrid may turn their attention to Liverpool's Belgium striker Divock Origi, 21, if they fail to sign Spain international Diego Costa, from Chelsea - Bleacher Report

Newcastle may be interested in signing Liverpool's Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva, 29, as part of a deal taking Georginio Wijnaldum to Anfield, with the Magpies valuing Wijnaldum at £27m - Daily Telegraph

In Holland it is being reported that Everton and Tottenham will both bid for Newcastle's 25-year-old Georginio Wijnaldum, sparking a bidding war - De Telegraaf (Dutch newspaper)

Tottenham have ended their interest in Newcastle midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. Spurs were keen on the Dutch international but manager Mauricio Pochettino has decided he is too expensive, with the Magpies unwilling to budge on their £25m valuation -

Chelsea and Everton will go head-to-head to sign Napoli and Senegal international defender Kalidou Koulibaly. Chelsea are understood to have had a £20m bid rejected by Napoli, but the London club are set to revise their offer.
Everton meanwhile, backed by new owner Farad Moshiri, are willing to spend £37m on Koulibaly as new boss Ronald Koeman aims to steer the club back into Europe - The Sun

Liverpool have confirmed the signing of 30-year-old Estonia centre-back Ragnar Klavan from FC Augsburg. Klavan, who has appeared 112 times for his country, is believed to have cost the club €5m (£4.2m), with reports suggesting he has signed a three-year deal - and

Burnley and England international goalkeeper Tom Heaton has chosen to extend his stay at Turf Moor. Heaton, 30, joined Burnley from Bristol City in 2013, and was part of England's Euro 2016 squad has signed a new four-year deal - and

Swansea are reportedly keen to sign Tottenham's Nacer Chadli. Spurs value the Belgian at around £15m, which would be a club-record fee for Swansea - Daily Mirror

Turkish side Besiktas will target Chelsea's France striker Loic Remy, 29, if they fail to agree a deal with Fiorentina for Germany international Mario Gomez - Evening Standard

Germany striker Mario Gomez says he will be leaving Besiktas because of the "political situation" in Turkey -

Europa League champions Sevilla have completed the signing of Palermo midfielder Franco Vazquez. The 27-year-old has signed a five-year deal -

Barcelona are willing to sell £20m-rated Turkey midfielder Arda Turan, 29, with Chelsea and Arsenal are both said to be interested in the Turkey international - Talksport

Barcelona pair Munir El Haddadi and Sergi Samper have signed contract extensions, the La Liga champions have confirmed. Both Munir and Samper have penned a three-year renewals that will see them remain at the Camp Nou until June 2019.
Munir has a €60m (£50.1m) release clause in his new contract, while Samper has had a €50m (£42m) clause inserted in his deal -

Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Swansea and West Brom are interested in West Ham's £15m-rated Senegal striker Diafra Sakho. However Diafra Sakho will not be sold until West Ham find replacements, according to co-chairman David Sullivan - Daily Mirror and

Manchester City and Manchester United both want 17-year-old West Ham defender Reece Oxford, who is valued at £15m by his club -

Manchester United are eyeing a £25m move for the Monaco and Brazil international full-back Fabinho - Daily Mail

Manchester City are close to signing 24 year-old Argentina goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, for £4m from Real Sociedad - Guardian

Newcastle have agreed a fee with Blackburn Rovers for defender Grant Hanley. The Scotland international will travel to Tyneside for a medical today after a fee of £5.5m was agreed between the sides -

Aston Villa 'keeper Brad Guzan could be set to leave the club on a free transfer, ahead of a switch to Middlesbrough. The Teeside club announced the signing of Spanish World Cup-winning goalkeeper Victor Valdes earlier this month - Telegraph.

Transfer news coming from Portugal, concerning two Benfica players, who could be coming to a Premier League club. Reports that Talisca, a 22-year-old Brazilian attacking midfielder, and Eduardo Salvio, 26, an Argentina international winger, could both be moving in a joint deal worth £50m (£41.9m). Where are they going? The paper doesn't say, but does add that club president Luis Felipe Vieira is negotiating a deal in London - A Bola (Portuguese newspaper)

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is willing to let defender Tyler Blackett, 22, and strikers Will Keane, 23, and James Wilson, 20, leave Old Trafford - Daily Telegraph

Fulham are hopeful of agreeing a loan deal for England Under-21 international James Wilson - The Sun

Liverpool goalkeeper Adam Bogdan has joined Wigan Athletic on a season-long loan -

West Brom goalkeeper Boaz Myhill has signed a one-year contract extension to keep him at the club until 2018 -

Real Madrid youngster Borja Mayoral will leave the club’s training camp in Montreal to finalise his loan move to Wolfsburg. The striker, 19, will head to Germany today to sign his season-long deal with Wolfsburg - Marca (Spanish newspaper)

Aston Villa say that Stiliyan Petrov will not be offered a playing contract, but will be offered a role at the club -

Arsenal have signed 16-year-old Norway defender Erik Tobias Sandberg from Lillestrom SK - The Sun

Stoke City are keen on striker Jose Angulo, 21. He plays for Independiente del Valle in his native Ecuador - Guardian

Sheffield United have turned down a £1m bid from Birmingham City for their young striker Che Adams -

Bury have completed the signing of 30 year-old defender Leon Barnett on a two-year deal after his release by Wigan Athletic -

Rotherham United have secured the signature of 22-year-old Brighton's Jake Forster-Caskey. The central midfielder has 12 England under-21 caps, and signs on a season-long loan - and

Luton Town striker Jack Marriott has pledged his long-term future to the club by signing a new three-year contract -

Port Vale have signed midfielder Sebastien Amoros on a one-year deal, with an option of a further year. The 21-year-old joins from Monaco, where he came up through academy -

Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough is hoping to offer Irish teenager Ryan Delaney a permanent deal with the club. Defender Delaney, 19, currently with Wexford Youths, has impressed the Brewers boss while on trial -

Chelsea youngster Alex Kiwomya has joined Crewe on loan until 9th January 2017 -

Crawley Town have signed midfielder Billy Clifford on a one-year deal following a successful trial, the Sky Bet League Two club have announced -

Hearts have signed striker Tony Watt on a season-long loan from Charlton -

# New rules to stop "intolerable behaviour" by players and managers have been introduced in English football.
In a statement, the Premier League, English Football League and Football Association said poor conduct has reached "unacceptable levels."
Starting this season, red cards will be issued to players who confront match officials and use offensive language.
Behaviour within the technical areas will also be more rigorously enforced.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A statistical look back at UEFA Euro 2016

The following article outlines STATISTICS for the UEFA European Championships 2016, which took place in France from 10 June to 10 July 2016 inclusive.

Antoine Griezmann
Tournament Winners: Portugal
Tournament Runners-up: France

Most Goals Scored by a Team:

France 13
Wales 10
Belgium 9
Portugal 9
Iceland 8
Germany 7

Team With Most Goal Attempts:

Portugal 121
France 121
Germany 108
Belgium 98
England 83
Switzerland 71

Hit The Woodwork:

Ricardo Quaresma
France 6 times
Croatia 4
Germany 4
Portugal 3

Pass Completion (%):

Spain: 91% - 2340/2562
Switzerland: 91% - 1947/2154
Germany: 90%  - 3639/4020
France: 88% - 3112/3519
England: 88% - 1767/2001

Possession (%):

Germany - 63%
Spain - 61%
England - 59%
Switzerland - 58%
Ukraine - 56%

Top Individual Goalscorers:

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale
6 goals

Antoine Griezmann - France

3 goals

Olivier Giroud - France
Dimitri Payet - France
Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal
Nani - Portugal
Álvaro Morata - Spain
Gareth Bale - Wales

Top Goal Assists:

4 Assists

Eden Hazard - Belgium
Aaron Ramsey - Wales

3 Assists

Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal


Total Tournament Goals Scored:

Average Goals per match: 2.12
1 goal scored every 44 minutes

Most goals scored by a team: 13

Fewest goals scored by a team: 0

Most goals conceded by a team: 9

Fewest goals conceded by a team: 2
Italy, Poland, Switzerland

Best goal difference: +8

Worst goal difference: –5

Most goals scored in a match by both teams: 7
France (5–2) Iceland

Biggest margin of victory: 4 goals
Hungary (0–4) Belgium

Fastest goal in a match from kick-off: 2nd minute (1m:40s)
Robert Lewandowski for Poland against Portugal

Fastest goal in a match after coming on as a substitute: 1 minute
Ondrej Duda for Slovakia against Wales (introduced in the 60th minute)

Latest goal in a match without extra time: 90+6th minute
Dimitri Payet for France against Albania and Niall McGinn for Northern Ireland against Ukraine

Latest goal in a match with extra time: 117th minute
Ricardo Quaresma for Portugal against Croatia

Latest winning goal in a match without extra time: 90+4th minute
Arnór Ingvi Traustason for Iceland against Austria

Latest winning goal in a match with extra time: 117th minute
Ricardo Quaresma for Portugal against Croatia

Oldest goal scorer: 37 years and 61 days
Zoltán Gera for Hungary against Portugal

Youngest goal scorer: 18 years and 317 days
Renato Sanches for Portugal against Poland

Hannes Halldorsson

Most Saves:

Hannes Halldorsson - Iceland 27
Thibaut Courtois - Belgium 20
Rui Patrício - Portugal 20
Łukasz Fabiański - Poland 19
Gábor Király - Hungary 17

Most Clean Sheets:

4 clean sheets

Manuel Neuer - Germany
Rui Patrício - Portugal

3 clean sheets

Thibaut Courtois - Belgium
Hugo Lloris - France
Gianluigi Buffon - Italy

Quickest Players:
Kingsley Coman

(Top speed km/h)

Kingsley Coman - France

Yannick Carrasco - Belgium

Erik Johansson - Sweden

Šime Vrsaljko - Croatia

Albin Ekdal - Sweden


Overall attendance: 2,427,303

Average attendance per match: 47,594

Highest attendance: 76,833 – France vs Iceland

Lowest attendance: 28,840 – Russia vs Wales


Total number of yellow cards: 205

Average yellow cards per match: 4.02

Total number of red cards: 3

Average red cards per match: 0.06

Most yellow cards (team): 18

Most red cards (team): 1
Albania, Austria and Republic of Ireland

Fewest yellow cards (team): 2

Most yellow cards (player): 3
William Carvalho (Portugal), N'Golo Kanté (France) and Bartosz Kapustka (Poland)

Most red cards (player): 1
Lorik Cana (Albania), Aleksandar Dragović (Austria) and Shane Duffy (Rep of Ireland)

Most yellow cards (match): 10
Portugal vs France

Most red cards (match): 1
Albania vs Switzerland, Austria vs Hungary, France vs Rep of Ireland

(Goals scored during penalty shoot-outs are not counted and matches decided by a penalty shoot-out are counted as draws.)

# Some data courtesy of

Friday, July 01, 2016

Babes of the Month - Sexiest Fans at Euro 2016

The 2016 European Championships currently being held in France are not just about the game of football and the players, it is also about the fans! I am talking about the beautiful female fans showcasing the tournament - whether it’s the French girls, the Poles, the Russians, the Irish, the Portuguese or the Albanians girls - they have all created quite a hype on social media, so here are a few of them for you.

Friday, June 24, 2016

All the very latest football news and gossip across Europe!

The 2016 European Championships may be in full swing, but there is still plenty of football news to report. Here is a round up of all the latest football news/gossip across Europe today, which includes the likes of: PSG, Manchester City, Paul Pogba, Sadio Mane, Borussia Dortmund, Southampton, Claude Puel, John Stones, Inter Mlan, Juventus, Crystal Palace, Axel Witsel, Aaron Ramsey, Liverpool, West Ham, Victor Wanyama, Piotr Zielinskiand and Alexis Sanchez to name but a few!

Paris St-Germain have sacked manager Laurent Blanc, with the former France defender receiving a £16.85m pay-off - L'Equipe (French nationwide daily newspaper devoted to sports)

Former Juventus striker Alvaro Morata has re-joined Real Madrid, despite rumours Chelsea had launched a €50m bid to sign the Spanin international striker - AS (Spanish daily sports newspaper) and

New Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will make a 'statement signing' during the summer transfer window, with Juventus France midfielder Paul Pogba, 23, a priority. Mourinho is also targeting a shock summer move for Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey. The Wales international, 25, is contracted to the Gunners until the end of June 2018 - Manchester Evening News and The Sun.

Tottenham have confirmed the signing of Victor Wanyama from Southampton for an undisclosed fee. The former Celtic midfielder has agreed a five-year contract with the club until 2021 -

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy decided to snub a move to Arsenal as he was not convinced Arsenal play the right style of football to suit his game.
Arsenal triggered a release clause in Vardy's contract earlier this month, but Leicester announced on Thursday that the England forward has agreed a new four-year deal at the club, which he will sign once he is back from Euro 2016 -

Juventus have drawn up a shortlist of strikers to sign this summer, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Serie A Champions recently saw forward Alvaro Morata re-join Real Madrid. As a result, boss Max Allegri is understood to be weighing up a summer move for either Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, Everton's Romelu Lukaku or Marseille's Michy Batshuayi -

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is keen to snap up Arsenal ace Alexis Sanchez, according to reports - Daily Star

Liverpool will step up their efforts to sign Southampton's Senegal forward Sadio Mane, 24, in a £30m deal next week - Daily Telegraph

Liverpool have rejected an £8m bid from Swansea for midfielder Joe Allen, 26, who left the Liberty Stadium for Anfield four years ago - Daily Mirror

Southampton and Leicester are interested in signing Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen - The Times

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew wants to bolster his forward options with the signing of Liverpool striker Christian Benteke - The Sun

Borussia Dortmund say Manchester United target Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 27, is available for £30.6m. The Armenia forward has one year remaining on his contract - Kicker (Germany's leading sports magazine)

Manchester United have had an offer worth £28m rejected by Roma for established defender Kostas Manolas -

Wolfsburg have made a £20m offer to Juventus for striker Simone Zaza. The German side have made their move as their own Andre Schurrle is a target for Borussia Dortmund, who in turn want a replacement for Manchester United target Henrikh Mkhitaryan - Daily Mail

Manchester City have made another signing already this summer. They have beaten Barcelona and Manchester United to the signing of 15 year-old Argentina youngster Benjamin Garre The attacking midfielder has been starring in the youth ranks of Velez Sarsfield - La Pelota al 10 (Argentinian radio station) and Daily Mail

West Ham have lodged a €52m bid with Lyon for forward Alexandre Lacazette. The 25-year-old is contracted to the Ligue 1 club until the summer of 2019 - L'Equipe (French nationwide daily newspaper devoted to sports)

Inter Milan are in talks with Russian club Zenit Saint Petersbourg about signing the former Standard Liège and Benfica box-to-box midfielder Axel Witsel. The 27 year-old Belgian international is also being tracked by Juventus, AS Roma, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea and Stoke City -

Former Monaco, Lille, Lyon and Nice boss Claude Puel has emerged as the front-runner for the Southampton manager's job - Daily Telegraph

Poland star Piotr Zielinski will not sign for Liverpool until his nation are out of Euro 2016. Reports in Italy claimed that Anfield chiefs had wrapped up a £12m deal for the central midfielder from Serie A club Udinese - Daily Mirror

Manchester City are the frontrunners to sign Dinamo Zagreb's 19-year-old midfielder Ante Coric, who is part of Croatia's Euro 2016 squad, for £6m - Daily Mail

France midfielder Samir Nasri, 28, will have talks with new Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola next week as he wants to stay at the club - The Sun

Meanwhile, Guardiola has made Everton defender John Stones, 22, his number one transfer target - Marca (Spanish national daily sport newspaper) and Daily Express

Barcelona have joined Manchester United in the race to sign Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta. The Spanish giants are on the look-out for a new right-back as Dani Alves prepares to join Juventus.

Chelsea have snubbed an £18m bid for defender Andreas Christensen from Borussia Monchengladbach. The 20-year-old is on a two-season loan at the German club but Chelsea see him as an heir to John Terry at centre-half - Daily Mail

Chelsea target Radja Nainggolan is set to snub a big-money Blues switch to stay at Roma - Daily Mirror

Stoke City have offered nearly £20m for Napoli forward Manolo Gabbiadini - Daily Mirror

Roma have turned down a £28m offer from Manchester United for Greek defender Kostas Manolas, who is also a reported target for Arsenal - The Sun

Michy Batshuayi's future could be resolved this week, with West Ham and Juventus keen to sign the Belgium striker from Marseille. Tottenham are also considering whether to make an offer for the 22-year-old - Guardian

West Ham have made a €35m bid for Marseille's Michy Batshuayi -

Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern is wanted by Southampton after his Euro 2016 heroics - The Sun

Premier League newcomers Burnley are interested in signing Crystal Palace and Wales midfielder Joe Ledley - Croydon Advertiser

Tottenham have had a bid for Vincent Janssen turned down, according to his Dutch club AZ Alkmaar. Wolfsburg are also understood to be keen on the 22-year-old Dutch international striker, who was Eridivisie's top scorer last season.

Lazio want to take Southampton striker Graziano Pelle back to Serie A - The Sun

West Brom are interested in signing 24-year-old winger Andros Townsend from Newcastle and are prepared to sell winger 25 year-old Callum McManaman - Daily Express and Daily Star

Wales defender Chris Gunter is wanted by Premier League duo Swansea and Middlesbrough following his heroics at Euro 2016. The 26-year-old full-back is understood to have a release clause in his contract with Reading - Daily Mirror

Premier League champions Leicester City remain interested in Burnley defender Michael Keane, 23, after having an initial £10m bid rejected - Daily Mail and Leicester Mercury

Burnley are weighing up a double swoop for Aston Villa duo Ashley Westwood and Rudy Gestede -The Sun

Aston Villa have rejected Celtic's opening bid of £2m for winger Scott Sinclair. Brendan Rodgers wants to make the former Manchester City man his first signing as Parkhead boss - Daily Mail and Daily Record

Hull City goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic has signed a fresh two-year contract with the newly promoted Premier League club -

Fiorentina chief executive Pantaleo Corvino, had started talks with Hull City over a deal for Uruguayan international Abel Hernandez (25) - La Gazzetta dello Sport (Italian sports newspaper)

Sunderland are in negotiations with Russian side Rubin Kazan for the permanent signing of midfielder Yann M'Vila, 25, who spent last season on loan at the Black Cats - Sunderland Echo

Watford have offered a new contract to Troy Deeney, 27, after Leicester had a £25m bid rejected for the striker - Watford Observer

Sevilla have signed Hiroshi Kiyotake after the Japanese midfielder passed a medical on Friday morning. Kiyotake joins from Bundesliga club Hannover 96 on a four-year contract -

Chelsea and England Under-21 midfielder Lewis Baker is to spend a second season out on loan at Eredivisie side Vitesse Arnhem -

Birmingham City have completed the signing of former Nottingham Forest midfielder Robert Tesche. The 29 year-old German has penned a three-year deal with the Blues -

Portsmouth have completed the signing of striker Michael Smith from Swindon on a permanent basis -

German defensive midfielder Marc Pfitzner, (31) has been signed by Werder Bremen, from Eintracht Braunschweigon on a deal lasting until June 2018 -

St Etienne have signed 24 year-old midfielder Bryan Dabo from Montpellier, on a four-year contract -

Marseille have completed the signing of Japanese defender Hiroki Sakai, the Ligue 1 club announced on their website. The 26-year-old was a free agent after his contract expired at Hannover 96 -

Plymouth have signed defender Karleigh Osborne following his recent release by Bristol City. Teenage striker Louis Rooney has also signed a new deal with the Pilgrims -

Walsall have completed the signing of former Yeovil captain Joe Edwards on a two-year contract.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Euro 2016 - Part Two: A Short and Concise Preview

Group D

My Predicted Group finish:

1. Spain 2. Croatia 3. Turkey 4. Czech Republic


There was a time when it looked as if Spain would dominate international football forever more!
Yet the defending European champions are currently in a state of uncertainty. David Villa, Xavi and Xabi Alonso have retired from international football. There are doubts over who will start in goal – Del Bosque remains loyal to captain Casillas in spite of David de Gea’s consistent excellence for Manchester United – and there’s no obvious candidate to be the third midfielder alongside Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta.

For all this, however, Spain were dominant in qualifying, and despite losing friendlies to the French, Germans and Dutch since the summer of 2014, they have arguably Euro 2016’s most talented squad. If it clicks, they’re a difficult side to stop.

Group D isn’t the worst, but Turkey, Croatia and the Czech Republic are no mugs. Spain must avoid finishing second, which would mean a last 16 tie with the Group E winners – likely to be Italy or Belgium. Still, they’re good enough to reach the final.

Opening fixture: 13-06-2016 v Czech Rep - Toulouse, 2pm kick-off (UK time)

Key players: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City) and Nolito (Celta Vigo)

World ranking: 6

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 11/2 (Skybet)


A lot of the attention falls on the midfield and understandably so! The depth and variety in those positions is impressive with Modric and Rakitic. In defence, Croatia have excellent full-backs. Darijo Srna is a great leader. Sime Vrsaljko is one of the best crossers in Serie A. Up front, Mario Mandzukic has had a fine season at Juventus and Ivan Perisic offers width and goals.

But the question marks come at centre-back! Dejan Lovren has been left out amid differences with coach Ante Cacic. Confidence in Cacic is not the greatest, however if Cacic gets the balance right, this team has what it takes to do very well.

Opening fixture: 12-06-2016 v Turkey - Paris, 2pm kick-off

Key players: Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Luka Modric (Real Madrid) and Mario Mandzukic (Juventus)

World ranking: 27

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 25/1 (Skybet)

Czech Republic

Gone are the days when the Czechs were part of football’s elite.
The Czechs won their group but conceded 14 goals in qualifying, more than any other side to qualify for Euro 2016.

Still, coach Pavel Vrba has created a side that aren’t easy on the eye but aren’t easy to beat, either. They won’t fear anyone, even in a tough group, but the Czechs could be heading straight home or get as far as the last 16. A leaky defence makes the former a more likely outcome.

Opening fixture: 13-06-2016 v Spain - Toulouse, 2pm kick-off

Key players: Petr Cech (Arsenal), Vladimir Darida (Hertha Berlin) and Tomáš Rosický (Arsenal)

World ranking: 30

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 100/1 (Skybet)


Returning to the Euros for the first time since 2008, Turkey didn't need a play-off to book their place in France - they qualified as the best third-placed team behind the Czech Rep and Iceland and ahead of the Netherlands. They were undefeated in 13 games until their recent defeat to England in a friendly in Manchester in May.

Opening fixture: 12-06-2016 v Croatia - Paris, 2pm kick-off

Key players: Arda Turan (Barcelona), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Selçuk İnan (Galatasaray)

World ranking: 18

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 66/1 (Skybet)

Group E

My Predicted Group finish:

1. Belgium 2. Italy 3. Republic of Ireland 4. Sweden

Republic of Ireland

Ireland made the Championships by defeating Bosnia in a play-off after finishing third in their tough qualifying group behind Germany and Poland. They only lost two of their 10 qualifying games, conceding just seven goals, and they took four points from world champions Germany, drawing 1-1 in Gelsenkirchen and winning 1-0 in Dublin.

The Irish didn't get any luck when the draw was made! In probably the strongest group in the competition, Ireland's biggest game is likely to be their opener against Sweden. The loser of that game will surely be going home early. Any improvement on their performance at Euro 2012, along with a little luck could potentially see them sneak into the second round as one of the best third-placed teams. Much will depend on the fitness of captain Robbie Keane.

Opening fixture: 13-06-2016 v Sweden - Paris, 5pm kick-off

Key players: Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton) and Jon Walters (Stoke)

World ranking: 33

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 100/1 (Skybet)


Outgoing manager Antonio Conte would dearly like to sign off with success before he leaves for Chelsea, but that's easier said than done for Italy. After a disastrous World Cup campaign that saw the Azzurri eliminated at the group stage – just as they were in South Africa four years previously – Italy needed to shake things up and Conte was brought in.

Italy comfortably won their qualifying campaign in what was ultimately a weak group, which included the likes of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Malta. They finished unbeaten but were far from convincing, scoring only 16 times in 10 games and only managing to grind out 1-0 victories both home and away to Malta, currently ranked 165th in the world.

Group E is one of Euro 2016’s toughest, and while Italy’s defence can keep the very best teams quiet, their lack of attacking threat will likely see them fail to make it much further than the last eight.

Opening fixture: 13-06-2016 v Belgium - Lyon, 8pm kick-off

Key players: Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) and Daniele De Rossi (Roma)

World ranking: 12

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 16/1 (Skybet)


Will Zlatan Ibrahimovic alone be enough to savevic alone be enough to save Sweden! The Swedes only qualified via a play-off win against neighbouring Denmark, after finishing behind Russia and Austria in a weak group that included Montenegro, Liechtenstein and Moldova. Ibrahimovic is in the form of his life right now and he will have to hit the ground running, because without him the Swedes look very ordinary. They have recorded just one win in their last six games, so the omens aren't good for coach Erik Hamren's side.

if Sweden manage to get through the group they are likely to play France, Spain or Austria in the round of 16 and that can only mean a ticket back home.

Opening fixture: 13-06-2016 v Rep of Ireland - Paris, 5pm kick-off

Key players: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain)

World ranking: 35

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 66/1 (Skybet)


Belgium lived up to their status as group favourites, finishing top despite dropping five points to Wales. But their build up to these Championships has seen them lose several players to injury. However they have enough quality among their ranks to overcome their injury woes to at least reach the final of this year's tournament. Although to do so they will have to dispose of World Champions Germany in the quarter-finals, if results goes to plan.

Opening fixture: 13-06-2016 v Italy - Lyon, 8pm kick-off

Key players: Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham) and Romelu Lukaku (Everton)

World ranking: 2

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 11/1 (Skybet)

Group F

My Predicted Group finish:

1. Austria 2. Iceland 3. Portugal 4. Hungary


This is the first time Iceland have qualified for a major tournament, and they are the smallest nation ever to qualify for the European Championship, but they're by no means the weakest. They only lost twice in their qualifying group, a group which included the Czech Republic, Turkey as well as the Netherlands, who they beat both home and away. They also kept six clean sheets in their 10 games.

I think they will qualify as runners-up, then see how they fare against Slovakia or Wales – both beatable – in the last 16.

Opening fixture: 14-06-2016 v Portugal - Saint-Étienne, 8pm kick-off

Key players: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea), Kolbeinn Sigthorsson (Nantes), Arnor Ingvi Traustason (Rapid Vienna) and Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City)

World ranking: 34

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 100/1 (Skybet)


Austria will be competing in their first European Championship finals after they won their qualifying group comfortably - following an unbeaten campaign, winning nine of their ten games and conceding just 5 goals.

They could be the dark horses of the tournament. They're a hard-working, quick-countering side and can be absolutely ruthless on the break. Expect Austria to win their group and to face either Italy or Republic of Ireland in the last 16. If they finish 2nd in their group they will be paired with the winners of Group B, possibly England.

Opening fixture: 14-06-2016 v Hungary - Bordeaux, 5pm kick-off

Key players: Marko Arnautovic (Stoke), Marc Janko (Basel), David Alaba (Bayern Munich) and Aleksandar Dragovic (Dynamo Kiev)

World ranking: 10

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 40/1 (Skybet)


Portugal topped their qualifying group, with seven wins out of eight, but scored just 11 goals in those 8 games.

So much depends on the condition of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid star looked well short of fitness in the Champions League final and manager Fernando Santos will be praying that he recovers in time. Without him, Portugal are worryingly light on goals.

With arguably the tournament’s best player in their ranks, plus a healthy mix of experienced campaigners and bright new talent, hopes are high within the Portuguese camp that they can continue their impressive Euros record. In six appearances, they have reached the semi-finals on four occasions, going on to contest the final on home turf in 2004, and they have never failed to successfully negotiate the group phase.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Portugal’s recurrent problem of having no high-quality striker is again evident. Eder may lead the line, but one goal in 23 Portugal appearances is not a record that will have opposition defenders quaking in their boots.

I expect Portugal to struggle in this group, and victory in their opening fixture against Iceland in Saint-Étienne is crucial, if they are to progress. Even if they do reach the knockout phase I can't see them progressing beyond the last 16.

Opening fixture: 14-06-2016 v Iceland - Saint-Étienne, 8pm kick-off

Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Renato Sanches (Benfica) and Ricardo Carvalho (AS Monaco)

World ranking: 8

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 20/1 (Skybet)


Hungary's qualification wasn't exactly straight-forward and sadly there's little to suggest that their stay in France will be a long one. They made it through to the finals via a play-off win versus Norway, after finishing as the third best placed team in their group, behind Northern Ireland and Romania, scoring only eleven goals in their ten qualifying games. They will need to bring their very best to this tournament if they're to avoid finishing last in Group F.

Opening fixture: 14-06-2016 v Austria - Bordeaux, 5pm kick-off

Key players: Tamas Priskin (Slovan Bratislava), Zoltan Gera and Ádám Nagy (both Ferencváros)

World ranking: 20

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 200/1 (Skybet)

# All tournament betting odds correct at time of writing.
## All kick-offs indicated are in United Kingdom time.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Euro 2016 - Part One: A Short and Concise Preview

Group A

My Predicted Group finish:

1. France 2. Switzerland 3. Romania 4. Albania


Albania are set to make their debut appearance at a major tournament, controversially qualifying after being awarded three points from an abandoned match in Serbia following the infamous ‘drone incident.’ They are drawing on patriotic pride for inspiration.

Opening fixture: 11-06-2016 v Switzerland - Lens, 2pm kick-off (UK time)

Key players: Lorik Cana (Nantes) and Elseid Hysaj (Napoli)

World ranking: 42

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 200/1 (Skybet)


This is their time. Not only do France have history on their side as the host nation, having won two of the three post-war major tournaments to be held in their own back yard (Euro 84 and World Cup 98), but they have had an uncommonly calm run-up to the event.

The results have really come together in the last year, too. After a poor 2015 summer, France have won seven of their eight matches since September, with the one defeat – against England at Wembley – entirely understandable as the nation came to terms with the Paris terrorist attacks four days previously.

Opening Fixture: 10-06-16 v Romania - Saint-Denis, 8pm kick-off

Key players - Paul Pogba (Juventus), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Dimitri Payet (West Ham) and Anthony Martial (Manchester Utd)

World ranking: 17

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 3/1 favourites (Skybet)


Switzerland finished a distant second to England in qualifying, but after taking Argentina to extra time at the last World Cup, they look primed for their best ever European Championship showing. Euro 2008's co-hosts benefit from a youth development program that has produced a steady stream of promising players, many of them from immigrant backgrounds, such as Xherdan Shaqiri, and new Arsenal midfield signing Granit Xhaka.

Opening fixture: 11-06-16 v Albania - Lens, 8pm kick-off

Key players: Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Josip Drmić, Nico Elvedi, (both Borussia Mönchengladbach) and Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)

World ranking: 15

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 40/1 (Skybet)


Romania finished unbeaten in second place in qualifying behind Northern Ireland in Group F, but no qualifying team in Europe scored fewer goals in their 10 games than the 11 they mustered in total. With no big names in the team, the Tricolorii hope to cause an upset or two with an approach that’s rather at odds with Romanian football traditions.

Opening fixture: 10-06-16, v Romania - Saint-Denis, 8pm kick-off

Key players: Vlad Chiriches (Napoli) and Nicolae Stanciu (Steaua Bucharest)

World ranking: 22

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 100/1 (Skybet)

Group B

My Predicted Group finish:

1. England, 2. Slovakia, 3. Wales, 4. Russia


England scored 31 goals in their 10 qualifying matches (the second-most in Europe) and let in just three (the fewest in Europe).

Roy Hodgson has selected a squad that basically says: "Out with the old, in with the new."
Gone are the players of England’s so-called ‘golden generation’ and into the squad come players picked largely on merit rather than reputation, such as Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Eric Dier - all of whom are all likely to play a substantial role during the tournament.

The flipside to that aforementioned youthful exuberance is a lack of top-level experience. Of Hodgson’s regular picks over the past two years, only Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart, Gary Cahill and James Milner have passed 40 international appearances. But that may not be a bad thing. The emerging talents have fewer scars from previous failures, while a greater number of players are being picked on the basis of a great season, rather than an impressive CV.

The draw has been relatively kind, particularly in comparison to England’s testing ties in Euro 2012 (France, Sweden and hosts Ukraine) and World Cup 2014 (Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica).

Opening fixture: 11-06-16 v Russia - Saint-Denis, 8pm kick-off

Key players: Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier (All Tottenham) and Chris Smalling (Manchester Utd)

World ranking: 11

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 8/1 (Skybet)


The Russian qualifying campaign veered toward disaster, and it required the removal of coach Fabio Capello to pull them through, with CSKA Moscow coach Leonid Slutsky called in last June to rescue the campaign. However a proliferation of foreign players in the Russian Premier League means there is a shallow pool of talent to call upon, and an ageing squad to work with for the World Cup 2018 hosts.

Opening fixture: 11-06-16 v England - Saint-Denis, 8pm kick-off

Key players: Roman Shirokov (CSKA Moscow) and Artem Dzyuba (Zenit St Petersburg)

World ranking: 29

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 40/1 (Skybet)


Slovakia has become the home of one of Europe’s most unpredictable national teams.
Jan Kozak's side went off like a firework in their qualifying campaign by beating Ukraine away from home, stunning Spain and, in all, claiming wins in their first six games. Of more recent concern was the way Slovakia then went three games without even scoring and only confirmed qualification with a nervy win over Luxembourg.

Confidence is high throughout a squad which has now been together for a long time, so don't write them off. They're tactically versatile, can adapt their shape to suit any situation, and they boast one Marek Hamsik in their ranks. They won't win it, but they should comfortably progress to the knockout stages.

Opening fixture: 11-06-16 v Wales - Bordeaux, 5pm kick-off

Key players: Marek Hamšík (Napoli) and Martin Skrtel (Liverpool)

World ranking: 24

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 150/1 (Skybet)


Having made their first finals tournament since 1958, Chris Coleman's Welsh team are determined to prove that reaching Euro 2016 is not the end of the journey. Wales have a young squad, and even Bale, Ramsey and Allen are still in their mid-20s, so the future’s bright. That isn’t enough, though. Even if post-qualification friendlies brought disheartening results, if not performances.

Wales go into Euro 2016 feeling quietly confident. Nobody’s expecting much, and they thrive as underdogs. Making the second round would be a considerable but wholly possible achievement.

Opening fixture: 11-06-16 v Slovakia - Bordeaux, 5pm kick-off

Key players: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Ashley Williams (Swansea) and Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)

World ranking: 26

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 80/1 (Skybet)

Group C

My Predicted Group finish:

1.Germany, 2.Poland, 3. Ukraine, 4. Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland have played in three World Cups, but this is their first appearance in the final stages of the European Championship. None of Northern Ireland’s players have taken part in a major tournament before. Given the level at which many of them perform with their club sides, a good proportion have never come up against opponents of this calibre, either.
However undefeated for more than a year, spirits are high and the dream is to emulate the 1958 and 1982 World Cup sides that got through their groups.

Opening fixture: 12-06-16 v Poland - Bordeaux, 5pm kick-off

Key players: Steven Davis (Southampton) and Kyle Lafferty (Norwich City)

World ranking: 25

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 250/1 (Skybet)


In Robert Lewandowski Poland have arguably the best centre-forward in the competition. Top scorer throughout all of qualifying Lewandowski scored 13 goals - equalling the record set by Northern Ireland’s David Healy. Lewandowski also found the net 42 times for Bayern this season in all competitions, while his partner at international level, Arkadiusz Milik, hit 21 in the Eredivisie for Ajax.

The Poles are vulnerable at the back. Cagliari’s Bartosz Salamon is their most in-form defender, but he’s inexperienced. Apart from that 2-0 win over Germany, their only qualifying shutouts came against Georgia and Gibraltar.

Opening fixture: 12-06-16 v Northern Ireland - Bordeaux, 5pm kick-off

Key players: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) Arkadiusz Milik (Ajax) and Karol Linetty (Lech Poznań)

World ranking: 27

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 50/1 (Skybet)


Ukraine’s qualification success came down to a play-off against Slovenia. A 3-1 aggregate win ensured Ukraine came through a Euro qualifying campaign for the first time, having co-hosted the tournament in 2012. Their goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov is error prone and the defence is unremarkable, so in the powerful Andriy Yarmolenko they have a versatile forward who must deliver if Ukraine are to make progress. Height, speed, skill and a thunderous shot make him fit for almost any team in world football.

Opening fixture: 12-06-16 v Germany - Lille, 8pm kick-off

Key players: Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kiev), Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla) and Denys Garmash (Dynamo Kiev)

World ranking: 27

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 66/1 (Skybet)


German boss Joachim Low has an abundance of talent available to him, despite the recent loss of Marco Reus to injury. Most of the men who lifted the World Cup in Brazil two summers ago are still there, either as regulars or on the fringes.
Germany topped their group in qualifying but were beaten twice, by Poland for the first time ever and then by the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

However, they have struggled in recent friendlies, exemplified by England’s 3-2 friendly win in late March. However everybody knows Germany have the extra gears to go through that other teams don't, and they have reached at least the semi-finals at each of the last five tournaments.

Opening fixture: 12-06-16 v Poland - Lille, 8pm kick-off

Key players: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Mario Gomez (Besiktas), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Leroy Sane (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller (both Bayern Munich)

World ranking: 4

Odds of winning Euro 2016: 7/2 (Skybet)

# All tournament betting odds correct at time of writing.
## All kick-offs indicated are in United Kingdom time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Babe of the Month - Camille Leblanc-Bazinet

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet was born on 10th October 1988 in Richelieu, Quebec, Canada and is a Canadian professional CrossFit athlete. She is also an accomplished weightlifter, having qualified for the national championship for weightlifting in Canada.

Throughout her early years, Camille did gymnastics to a high level. At the age of 16, her career as a gymnast came to an abrupt halt due to injury when she tore her hip. After recovering, she played senior AA soccer and volleyball. She later was the captain of her flag football team in college. Leblanc-Bazinet also spent time running half marathons, skiing, and playing rugby. In an interview, she said she was introduced to CrossFit at a rugby party where I met a guy who was a owner of a CrossFit gym and he challenged me to try a session.....that same day I payed for a year's subscription.

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program designed to perform at the highest standards of many athletes by targeting peak exertion in the three main metabolic pathways. The program is designed to be applicable at all levels do the scalability of the workouts.

CrossFit is a fast growing fitness sport/lifestyle/movement. It combines gymnastics with weightlifting, with combat sports, with running, swimming, cycling, rowing, normally in the same workout. The goal is to achieve elite total body fitness including strength, endurance, balance, agility, flexibility, and accuracy.

The rise of Camille Leblanc-Bazinet from teenage gymnast to “Fittest Woman on Earth” would only have surprised those who weren’t paying attention!

Since her competitive CrossFit debut back in 2010, Leblanc-Bazinet made a habit of dominating the Canada East Regionals and making waves at the Games, where she picked up three Top 10 finishes in her first four years. It was in 2014, however, that everything came together - as the 5’2” Leblanc-Bazinet showed off her much improved weightlifting prowess en route to her first Reebok CrossFit Games title.

Even while simultaneously working towards a degree in Chemical Engineering, the former balance beamer dedicated herself so much to the art of the barbell that she will be representing her native Canada in Women’s Weightlifting at the forthcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Leblanc-Bazinet is part of a spirited, athletic family. She has three siblings with competitive CrossFit experience, as well as her partner - CrossFit coach and trainer Dave Lipson. After moving to Boulder, Colorado in 2015, Camille made her debut in the South Regional with familiar results: a first place finish.

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