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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Player Profile: Virgil van Dijk

Were it possible to go back to 2015, when Virgil van Dijk left Glasgow Celtic for Southampton, every club in Europe would admit their mistake. The defender, seen as ‘too good for Scotland, not good enough for the top’ made a move to Southampton for around £11m. After two years in Glasgow where he looked like he’d outgrown the league on debut, he made the move to England and continued his development.

However, van Dijk was earmarked for major success as early as his youth days with FC Groningen. There, he made a huge impression and moved to Glasgow after the regular Dutch giants turned their nose up at him.

Assured on the ball and built with absolute confidence, van Dijk brings an air of calm that many modern defenders. Exceptional in the air, strong, quick and capable of handling any forward, the Dutchman has rightfully been elevated to a worldwide status. Despite having just 16 caps for a mediocre Holland side at 26 years of age, it would be fair to say that the Breda-born star was overlooked by both Dutch clubs and the Oranje for too long.

Now an established defender for Liverpool, following a protracted and chaotic move that could be worth £75m, van Dijk has become a major part of the future at Anfield. With such a massive pricetag, he’ll be expected to live up to heightened expectations – however, an inner zeal and self-belief that’s hard to break could see him easily achieve his aims.

The 6’4” defender is a regular goal scorer, and has often been one of the most impressive players in his position ever since he arrived in the UK with Celtic. Snobbery aside, some clubs might wish they’d paid the relative pittance that Southampton paid for the Dutch international! 
 
Were it possible to go back to 2015, when Virgil van Dijk left Glasgow Celtic for Southampton, every club in Europe would admit their mistake. The defender, seen as ‘too good for Scotland, not good enough for the top’ made a move to Southampton for around £11m. After two years in Glasgow where he looked like he’d outgrown the league on debut, he made the move to England and continued his development.

However, van Dijk was earmarked for major success as early as his youth days with FC Groningen. There, he made a huge impression and moved to Glasgow after the regular Dutch giants turned their nose up at him.

Assured on the ball and built with absolute confidence, van Dijk brings an air of calm that many modern defenders. Exceptional in the air, strong, quick and capable of handling any forward, the Dutchman has rightfully been elevated to a worldwide status. Despite having just 16 caps for a mediocre Holland side at 26 years of age, it would be fair to say that the Breda-born star was overlooked by both Dutch clubs and the Oranje for too long.

Now an established defender for Liverpool, following a protracted and chaotic move that could be worth £75m, van Dijk has become a major part of the future at Anfield. With such a massive pricetag, he’ll be expected to live up to heightened expectations – however, an inner zeal and self-belief that’s hard to break could see him easily achieve his aims.

The 6’4” defender is a regular goal scorer, and has often been one of the most impressive players in his position ever since he arrived in the UK with Celtic. Snobbery aside, some clubs might wish they’d paid the relative pittance that Southampton paid for the Dutch international!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

World Cup: Brazil vs Belgium

This tie is one of the most interesting of the FIFA World Cup so far: the old guard versus the new pretender. Seen as among the top European sides for the last six or seven years, it’s time for Belgium to make good on their wonderful collection of talent. Can they?


Brazil News
Brazil come into this one after a relatively easy 2-0 win over Mexico in the First Knockout Round. They played quite well, but Mexico looked overly daunted to begin with. For Brazil, we’re expecting to see 2-goal Roberto Firmino come in up-top. He was fantastic for Liverpool at club level, and the form-less Gabriel Jesus needs a rest.

Despite the fact that Casemiro joins Douglas Costa, Paulinho and Danilo as likely missing members, Brazil can come into the tie knowing they have more or less everything at their disposal to win.


Belgium News
The Red Devils are more or less free from any concerns. While Vincent Kompany might miss out again due to fitness and a lack of rest from the last game, we could see Belgium line up with Dedryck Boyata at the back.

Up top, we can expect Romelu Lukaku to continue, with Dries Mertens and Eden Hazard sitting just off him. Axel Witsel and Kevin de Bruyne will run the middle of the pitch, with Nacer Chadli and Thomas Meunier offering pace on the flanks.

It’s a very interesting Belgium side, which should pose threats to the attack-happy full-backs of the Brazil side.


Verdict

Brazil to win but not by much. Tournament experience is something that both sides have a fair amount of, but Brazil just feel like they have a bit more to themselves compared to Belgium. While we expect an excellent match-up, we think Brazil will come out on top come the end.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

World Cup: Germany v Sweden

After a shock but completely deserved loss to Mexico in their opener, Germany need to make up for lost time. Against a stocky and tough Sweden side, that’s going to be very interesting to watch.

There’s a lot riding on this game; can Die Mannschaft sort it out?


Germany News
After Herving Lozano gave them such a tough game in the opener, Germany are in the mood to impress. Their defence looked disjointed and their two centre-halves, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, looked very slow. If they are going to deal with Sweden, they cannot have that same lack of organization.

While Sweden might lack the pace of Mexico, they are nowhere near as open. Germany will need the likes of Mesut Ozil to step forward and deliver a top quality performance. With just one assist at tournaments for Germany, though, that might seem less likely than it first sounds.


Sweden News

Sweden come into this flying with confidence. They dealt with South Korea at arms’ length, and should have little if any issues being able to stay compact here. Sweden lack craft and pace, but they are solid, hard to break down and score their goals at key times.



Expect them to sit in deep and make it hard for Germany to get any kind of flow going. If they can do that, they should be able to stop Germany making too much headway: captain Andreas Granqvist will need to put in a performance for the ages, though.


Verdict
The idea of Germany going two FIFA World Cup games without a win is just ludicrous to a certain generation. We recommend that you get used to the idea, though: Germany might just struggle to break down a Sweden side who know the value of defensive solidity.