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As Chelsea hunt Cavani – is Torres’ time finally up?

“There’s no better place to be than at Chelsea with Mourinho”. These were the unequivocal words of Fernando Torres recently when questioned on his future with Chelsea. Words that exude nothing else but an unmistakable desire to ply his trade at Stamford Bridge this coming season. Compare these words with the “so-so” that Jose Mourinho mumbled recently to describe Torres’s time at Chelsea and you would be forgiven for thinking that things don’t quite add up for Spain’s number 9.

“So-so” – not a direct denunciation of Torres but certainly not a declaration of faith from Chelsea’s new manager either. Mix this with Mourinho’s not-so-secret desire to bring in Napoli’s Edinson Cavani and the signs do not look good for Torres.

The Chelsea faithful are unlikely to shed many tears if Torres’s departure means Cavani is brought in with the two strikers’ goal-scoring records last season contrasting starkly. 26-year-old Cavani scored a staggering 38 goals in 43 games, 29 of which were in Serie A. Torres, now 29, managed 22 in 64 for Chelsea in a season that many considered his best in blue – just eight of those 22 goals however were Premier League goals. To put it bluntly, Cavani is the player Chelsea thought they were signing in Torres from Liverpool – and more. Any fans doubting Cavani’s ability to make the notoriously difficult transition from Serie A to the Premier League should take solace in the success of strikingly similar players Carlos Tevez and Luis Suarez on these shores.

Fernando Torres

One element that Torres has in his favour however is the competition Chelsea may find in landing the understandably much sought-after Uruguayan. PSG are widely reported to have made Cavani prime target number one this summer and are more than capable of outspending even Chelsea yet Cavani, who was relatively quiet in the Confederations Cup, is believed to be eager to ultimately prove himself in the Premier League.

If Chelsea are unable to nab the Salto man it still remains difficult to imagine Mourinho’s Chelsea lining up against Hull in August with Torres or Demba Ba, who managed just the two league goals last term, leading it. Mourinho is likely to line his side up with just the one striker more times than not and he understandably won’t want to hand that responsibility to a player whose light has significantly faded since his Liverpool days.  Stephan El Shaararwy is another signing that Chelsea have strongly been linked with and one that Torres, like with Cavani, is supposedly being used in as a bargaining tool. Chelsea are unlikely to want their most expensive acquisition festering on the bench and are perhaps wise to use him as makeweight for the future development of that forward line.

Chelsea and Torres are believed to be holding talks this week over his future at the club with the Spaniard hoping to persuade his new manager that he still has a role to play at the club, be that with a new strike partner or not. He’ll certainly not want his roll to be as a deal-maker in the negotiations for his eventual replacement.

Torres is still likely to demand a costly fee and, at his best, remains formidable in every department in front of goal. Enquiries for his services will certainly not be shy in coming forward yet the problem for Torres would be convincing potential suitors that he is able to recapture the scintillating form he has shown slivers of at Chelsea and that he is worth a gamble with what would surely be a pricey fee.

If this is indeed the end of Torres’s spell at Chelsea then the question that remains is where next for ‘El Niño’. Perhaps the most likely destination is wherever Chelsea want him, whether that is in Naples or Milan. Barcelona are rumoured to be interested in Torres as a possible replacement for David Villa whose form has, for him, waned since his injury. Torres though has talked down this link, instead deciding to focus on Chelsea and his wish to benefit from the tutelage of Mourinho. After two-and-a-half underwhelming seasons at Chelsea and with Mourinho mercilessly tracking Europe’s elite however, that wish may well be left unfulfilled.

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Chelsea’s Torres, Manchester United’s Rooney, Barcelona’s Messi and the biggest football contracts of all time

The Biggest Football Contracts of All Time

With the most recent investments into the game the price of players contracts are once again starting to soar. Take a look below to find out more on the current top ten earners in world football and their seasons rates. (Warning: you may be surprised by some of the names on the list.)

10. Cristiano Ronaldo (€10 million)

The Portuguese forward earns a hefty sum at Real Madrid, but he only just cracks our top ten list. Ronaldo came to prominence in the Sporting Lisbon youth team, where an exceptional performance in a friendly against Manchester United earned him a transfer to the English club. After a rocky beginning in England, Ronaldo developed his game and led the side to three English Premier League titles, two League Cups, one UEFA Champions League trophy and the Club World Championship. Success has followed him to Real Madrid, where he won La Liga last season.

9. Lionel Messi (€10.5 million)

Lionel Messi

He is widely considered the best player in the world, yet Messi is only ninth on this list. He is Barcelona’s most dangerous player, often being their sole threat on goal. Messi broke the record for most goals scored in a calendar year in 2012. He has already won three UEFA Champions League crowns, along with winning the Ballon d’Or on four occasions.

8. Dario Conca, Guangzhou Evergrande (€10.6 million)

Conca is an Argentine international who plies his trade in China’s major league. This contract is a massive surprise, given the fact that Conca is not among the world’s elite players.

7. Fernando Torres, Chelsea (€10.8 million)

Along with paying £50 million to Liverpool, Chelsea gave Fernando Torres a bumper contract. Unfortunately, he has rarely showed the quality to justify such a financial expense. He has struggled to recapture his Liverpool form and is likely to be sold this summer.

6. Didier Drogba, Shanghai Shenhua (€12 million)

Didier Drogba

Ironically, Drogba is the man Torres was signed to replace at Chelsea. The Ivorian moved to China where he was on a handsome contract for half a season. Unfortunately, financial problems meant the cancellation of the deal allowing Drogba to move to Turkish giants Galatasaray, with employment lawyers now likely to get involved.

5. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City (€12.5 million)

Despite failure in the UEFA Champions League for two consecutive seasons, Aguero led City to last season’s Premier League title. More will be expected in future seasons from the Argentine star.

4. Yaya Toure, Manchester City (€13 million)

From Barcelona’s reserves to Manchester City’s first team, Yaya Toure made a massive jump when he left Spain. Not only did he earn a starting spot, but he got one of the best football contracts in history. His performances have lived up to the billing as he is often City’s best player.

3. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United (€13.8 million)

Wayne Rooney

A summer after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, United faced the possibility of Rooney leaving too. Instead, he was coaxed into staying by the manager and was rewarded with the third highest football contract. He has won four Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG (€14.5 million)

Ibra continued his nomadic club journey to PSG this summer, signing a massive contract with the French giants. He will be the spearhead of their bid to dominate European football.

1. Samuel Eto’o, Anzhi Makhachkala (€20 million)

Why would a footballer leave Inter Milan (European champions at the time) for Russian football? The answer is €20 million euros a season and the largest contract ever given to a football player.

Author Bio
Jamie Stevenson is an avid copywriter who writes for a variety of websites, including specialist employment solicitors Slater & Gordon.

Fernando Torres must quit Chelsea and return home – to Atletico Madrid

Much has been written about Chelsea’s Fernando Torres, with the Spain international having to live with a world of abuse from the football community for the last two years. My overwhelming emotion when I look at the Spaniard these days is one of pity. He has lost his pace, confidence and killer instinct, but still has the attributes to play at the highest level. It is now time for both Chelsea and Torres to call for an end to an agonising period at Stamford Bridge for the attacker, and let him return to his homeland.

Let’s not forget who we are talking about; before his misadventures at Chelsea, Fernando Torres was one of the most respected and deadly strikers in world football. With the Spanish national side Torres has won two European Championships and a World Cup, and is his nation’s all-time third top goalscorer currently.

Fernando Torres

With Atletico Madrid and Liverpool, the forward was at times unplayable, and he was awarded third place in the 2008 Ballon d’Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. But, there is no denying that the wheels have come off for Torres since his move to London.

He is not the first big-name forward to underachieve at Chelsea – look at Andriy Shevchenko; widely regarded as one of the most lethal hitmen to grace European football in the modern era, the Ukrainian had a similar experience at Stamford Bridge.

Whether it was the astronomical price tag hanging over his head, the constant media scrutiny or just bad luck, Torres must now draw a line under his time at Chelsea and look to get back to his best elsewhere.

And where better than where it all started, at Atletico Madrid. The Vicente Calderon outfit have come on leaps and bounds since Torres donned their red and white strip; they used to be a mid-table side but in the modern day they are looking almost certain to achieve Champions League qualification for next season.

Fernando Torres at Atletico Madrid

One player that has been critical in this has been Colombian marksman Radamel Falcao; but the South American looks likely to leave the Spanish capital for Manchester City, PSG or even Chelsea this summer.  Torres is the ideal replacement.

Coming into a city and club that he knows, with a manager in Diego Simeone who he has played alongside, means there can be the familiarity that breeds comfort. It was at Atletico that he made a name for himself; it is there that he can re-find the player that was once awarded world acclaim.

In terms of Torres’ time in England, we should remember him in his Liverpool days; devastating pace, scoring from impossible angles and torturing defenders, not his nightmare at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea dilemma: Will Fernando Torres’ return to form stop them from buying a new striker?

Roman Abramovich has been on a mission to revamp Chelsea’s squad this summer, with a host of new players arriving at Stamford Bridge throughout the transfer window. However, a new top-class striker has been on the Russian’s wishlist, and has yet to be delivered. In light of Fernando Torres’ good start to the campaign, will the Blues be happy with what they have or look to splurge further before the window closes?

The Spain international has had a torrid time since moving to west London in January 2011, but the old adage of ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ applies to El Nino. With Didier Drogba leaving the club this summer Torres has had the chance to start all three Premier League fixtures to date, scoring twice and looking markedly close to his old self.

Apart from a number of incidents of playacting, the Spaniard put in a solid performance against Newcastle on Saturday that will remind Abramovich why he shelled out a huge transfer fee to bring Torres from Liverpool. The striker was lively, focused and look like a threat anytime that he had the ball in the opposition half. Add to this a well-taken goal and even the confidence to go for a rabona cross, and Torres will be flying high again.

Given that Roberto Di Matteo seems to be opting to play only one striker, supported by Juan Mata and the impressive Eden Hazard, do Chelsea need to buy another striker? Forgotten man Daniel Sturridge waits in the wings, as does new versatile signing Victor Moses.

However despite this it is likely that the Blues will look to make a last move in the window to secure another forward. Many a name has been linked, and there could well be some last-minute drama that sees a new face at Stamford Bridge. Blues fans will hope that if Hulk, Edinson Cavani, Radamel Falcao or another big-name forward does move to west London that Torres’ early-season swagger does not diminish.

Chelsea’s Torres in Spain Euro 2012 squad, but no Roberto Soldado

Vicente del Bosque has the task of bringing home a third straight international tournament success this summer, with the triumphs at Euro 2008 and in the 2010 World Cup meaning Spain are favourites for this year’s Euro 2012. The successful trainer has named his squad for the tournament in Ukraine and Poland, with a raft of star names included. However, with David Villa injured, Del Bosque’s selection in attack was sure to be interesting, and one name is surprisingly omitted: Roberto Soldado.

Goalkeepers

  • Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Liverpool)

The reigning world champions have an embarrassment of riches between the sticks, with one of the game’s best in the form of Iker Casillas set to lead the side. However, if something unforeseen should happen to the Real Madrid stopper, Valdes and Reina are more than able deputies.

Defenders

  • Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Valencia), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao)

With Carles Puyol injured, it will be interesting to see just who Del Bosque picks to fill the experienced Barcelona man’s boots. The personnel and shape of the defence will depend on where Sergio Ramos is deployed, with the Santiago Bernabeu man’s versatility of playing either on the right or in the centre an attribute. Ramos is likely to play in the centre alongside Gerard Pique, but Del Bosque could also use him at right-back, and partner the Camp Nou man with Javi Martinez. Jordi Alba looks a shoe-in at left-back.

Midfielders

  • Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Xavi (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Malaga), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Juan Mata (Chelsea)

With only four strikers selected in the contingent and the sheer quality of the players listed above, it is likely that Spain will play with five in midfield, with a 4-5-1 formation without the ball quickly changing to a 4-3-3 whilst in possession. Xabi Alonso and Xavi are certainties in the centre of the park when fit, and they may well be joined by either Cesc Fabregas or Sergio Busquets, depending on whether Del Bosque wants to keep it tight or include an extra attacking player. David Silva and Andres Iniesta may well start from wide areas, but look to get space in-field and provide chances. Santi Cazorla could be used if Spain look for width and delivery.

Attackers

  • Pedro (Barcelona), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao)

Likely to be one of four in attack, however Pedro could also be used as a supporting striker. Negredo, Torres or Llorente will be charged with finishing the chances created by the mercurial midfield maestros, which should be plentiful. After the Sevilla man’s season of injuries and Torres’ torrid time at Stamford Bridge, the omission of Roberto Soldado is surprising to say the least. The Valencia marksman has continued to progress this season at the Mestalla, and was for some (including myself) the pick of the available forwards to fill David Villa’s shoes. Atletico Madrid’s Adrian also missed out.

Del Bosque’s squad is dominated by World Cup winners, Barcelona and Real Madrid superstars and has extraordinary depth. Spain rightly go into the competition as frontrunners, however it will be interesting who gets the nod up front and given the task of firing La Roja to their third consecutive glorious campaign.

Published – Soccerlens

Didier Drogba 2011-2012: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Didier Drogba has finished his Chelsea career on a high after their historic victory in the Champions League final against Bavarian giants Bayern Munich. However, as well as experiencing extreme highs, the African legend’s last season with the Blues has also seen its lows.

The AVB regime

Just a few games into the 2011-12 season you could already see that the arrival of Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas had caused an upset amongst the old guard at Chelsea. His micromanagement of the west London outfit was heavily criticised; there were even reports that he would stand and watch players who were coming in late at the Blues’ training ground in Cobham. Along with this, his handling of the players came under the microscope after failing to restore £50m Fernando Torres to his former self, and leaving Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard, out of the starting line-up on numerous occasions.

Many will see Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Championship side, Birmingham City, as one of the biggest turning points in AVB’s sacking. After not only failing to beat Chris Hughton’s side on their own turf, a media uproar was caused by a supposed Didier Drogba half-time team talk, that Villas-Boas rashly denied. As well as this, the 3-1 loss at the hands of Napoli, and a 1-0 defeat to mediocre West Bromwich Albion, tipped the balances and forced Roman Abramovich to make the bold and brave decision that paid off massively.

The Di Matteo turn-around

When Andre Villas-Boas’ assistant manager, Roberto Di Matteo, was announced as caretaker for the rest of the season, no one would have thought that they would be holding the Champions League trophy, for the first time in their history, a few months later. The former Chelsea midfielder started off by picking up from where his ex-colleague left off, with a 2-0 away win over Birmingham City in the FA Cup. Almost a week later, Robbie was in charge of turning around a 3-1 deficit against Napoli in the last sixteen of the Champions League, and he delivered with an astonishing 4-1 home win, including an opening goal from Didier Drogba.

The re-ignition of the golden oldies and the new-found harmony in the dressing room was crucial to the 41 year-old Italian’s success and led him on to do an unprecedented double, winning both the FA Cup, with a 2-1 defeat of Liverpool in the final, and the Champions League, after getting through both Barcelona and Bayern Munich – yet again the Ivorian talisman getting on the score sheet for each of those games.

Drogba’s impact

Forever will Didier Drogba be known as the best performer on the big stage after scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final against Liverpool and heading in an 88th minute equaliser in the Champions League Final, not to mention finishing the game with the winning penalty. At the age of 34-years-old, there is no doubt the African powerhouse is still a magnificent player and many will say he is the best in the world at what he does. In both the Champions League semi-final and the final, Chelsea were playing with their backs against the wall, and if there is one man you want to boot it up the field to and bring it down under control, it is Didier Drogba.

The ‘nine goals in nine cup finals’ hero will always be remembered as a Chelsea legend, and his humble exit will be have a bittersweet effect on the fans, who will be somewhat disappointed he was not offered a new contract. For many supporters, it is an end that has come too soon and there is no doubt that fans will be devastated that he’s going, but the monumental symbolism of his last kick of the ball for the Blues will stay in the hearts of Chelsea fans forever.

By Jacob Tucker

Newcastle, Tottenham and Chelsea look to move a step closer to finishing fourth in the Premier League on Wednesday

With as tight a race for Champions League qualification as in the recent memory, Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham all have three games left to play to ensure a top-four finish. The Blues have the FA Cup final on Saturday and their Champions League finale clash with Bayern Munich coming up, but are the form side of the three. The Tyneside outfit have put an excellent string of results together of late, however were comprehensively beaten 4-0 last time out by Wigan. Spurs have had an end-of-season wobble, and are not looking like the side that were challenging for the title three months ago. The race is set to go down to the wire.

Chelsea’s resurgence under Roberto Di Matteo has saved their season, as the Italian interim boss has led the side through a winning run, with only one defeat in 16 games in charge. With the final of the Champions League to play on May 19th, the Blues have a second chance to compete in Europe’s top tournament next term even if they do not finish in the top four, and potentially end one of their rivals’ dreams.

Currently in sixth and a point behind the other two contenders, the west London outfit host Newcastle at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. Chelsea won the reverse fixture 3-0 earlier in the season, and will look to build on a 6-1 victory over QPR from their last fixture. Fernando Torres scored a hat-trick in the rout to back up his strike against Barcelona from the game before, whilst Daniel Sturridge also got back on the scoresheet. Roman Abramovich will demand inclusion in the Champions League next term, and Di Matteo will need to ensure this to stand a chance of keeping his job on a permanent basis.

Newcastle’s heroics this season are well-documented and the praise afforded to Alan Pardew’s men fully deserved, but the Tyneside team are now starting to realise that they deserve their position amongst the country’s best. The likes of Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote have played out of their skin this campaign to delight the Sports Direct Arena crowd, whilst Papiss Cisse’s 11 goals in 11 games for the club have given the Toon faithful a new hero.

The game against Chelsea holds extra importance for the Geordies due to their tricky end of season fixture list; Pardew’s men still have Manchester City and Everton to play. A draw would be a good result for Newcastle to keep them above Chelsea, but a defeat has the ability to end their Champions League ambitions.

Tottenham’s capitulation over the last two months has seen the north Londoners slip from having a comfortable and dominant grip on third, to risk slipping all the way down to sixth. The White Hart Lane outfit have been adversely impacted by the speculation over Harry Redknapp’s future, but with Roy Hodgson having being appointed England manager the club’s fans will hope the side can refocus.

Spurs travel to take on Bolton at the Reebok Stadium on Wednesday, and will face a side struggling in the bottom three and desperate for points themselves. With Fabrice Muamba also expected at the game despite his health concerns, the Trotters will be motivated to get a result for their ill midfielder. However, should Spurs get a valuable three points they would open the gap between themselves and at least one of their two rivals, and move to within a point of third-placed Arsenal with Aston Villa and Fulham to play.

Teams’ fortunes are decided at the business end of the season, and Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham are only separated by a point in a tight and tense final battle. The London sides seem to have an advantage in the race, but the side to eventually finish fourth will become a bit clearer after the midweek fixtures.

Bayern Munich v Chelsea – the road to the Champions League final

An unlikely Champions League final of Bayern Munich vs Chelsea is set to be played at the Allianz Arena on May 19th, as the sides have both proved their worth to overcome underdogs tags to make the final. But how have these two sides managed to get to the final?

Bayern Munich

After the naming of the Allianz Arena as the venue for the 2011-12 final, all Bayern eyes have been on this campaign, which has been rightly earmarked as a potential opportunity to end their 11-year drought in winning Europe’s top tournament. With the Bundesliga also a priority but now conceded once more to Borussia Dortmund, the chance of becoming European champions has the ability to redeem the club’s season.

The German team were drawn in the ‘group of death’ along with Manchester City, Napoli and Villarreal, but stellar home form saw Die Roten top the pool. A 2-0 win over the Premier League team set the tone for the group, whilst a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Napoli ensured that the Germans would be dominant. Despite losing their final game at the Etihad Stadium once qualification was already ensured, Bayern’s professionalism and quality in the pool must be admired.

After flexing their European muscles in the pool, the knockout stages has been a story of the club’s determination to reach the final. After a 1-0 defeat to Basel in Switzerland in the first leg of the last 16, doubts over Jupp Heynckes’ men’s credentials were raised and duly squashed with an unprecedented 7-0 triumph in the reverse fixture. The Germans were drawn against an underperforming Marseille in the quarter-finals, and despite the mediocrity of the opponent, a 4-0 aggregate win must be admired.

Real Madrid in the semi-finals was the Bundesliga team’s real test, and over 210 minutes of football and penalty kicks, Bayern proved that they wanted victory more. An attacking outlook in the first game at home had Los Blancos on the back foot, and a plucky last-minute Mario Gomez goal gave them an advantage at half way of the tie. Within 14 minutes of the game at the Santiago Bernabeu fixture the Bavarians found themselves 2-0 down, but the side fought back to 2-1 and eventually won the tie on penalties.

All-in-all, Bayern are a more assured and rounded team than last season, and have had to fight back from difficult positions at times throughout the campaign. In Mario Gomez the side have a forward always liable to pop up with a goal, especially given the quality supply of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. The main development from last term however has been a steadying of the backline, with the summer additions of Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer now looked like excellent business. Add this all-rounded team to a frightening home record (they have won every game this season at the Allianz Arena) and Bayern will take some stopping.

Chelsea

Chelsea have been two contrasting teams in the Champions League this term; one under Andre Villas Boas and one under Roberto Di Matteo. The Italian has rekindled the side’s belief, and ultimately been the man responsible for getting the west Londoners to the final hurdle.

The Blues topped Group E, comprising Bayer Leverkusen, Valencia and Genk, despite a number of shaky moments. A 2-1 defeat to the Germans at the BayArena and a 0-0 draw with the Belgians away from home failed to inspire, but the English team did win all three home games, scoring 10 unanswered goals in the process.

A last 16 tie with Napoli, Manchester City’s conquerors, promised to be an exciting match-up and did not disappoint. After being thoroughly outplayed and beaten 3-1 at San Paolo, Villas Boas was replaced by Di Matteo, whose side staged a remarkable and unlikely comeback to beat the Italians 4-1 at Stamford Bridge in the return leg. This was undoubtedly the turning point of the Blues’ season, and the springboard that sees them in the final.

A potential banana-skin tie awaited Chelsea in the quarter-finals, as Benfica, who progressed through their group at the expense of Manchester United, would prove no pushovers. However, an assured performance at the Estadio da Luz saw a 1-0 win for the Premier League outfit, who huffed and puffed to win the return fixture 2-1 also. Brave team selection in the away leg by Di Matteo reaped benefits, and set up a semi-final with Barcelona.

Chelsea had unfinished business against the Catalan giants after previous close calls, and over 180 minutes rode their luck but ultimately did what it took to make the final. Despite being outplayed in the first leg, a 1-0 victory courtesy of a solitary Didier Drogba strike gave the Blues the slimmest of advantages to take to Camp Nou. After 44 minutes of the second leg Chelsea were staring down the barrel: trailing 2-0 and down to ten men after John Terry’s dismissal. However, a deft Ramires chip, stern defensive effort and last-gasp Fernando Torres strike offered up a memorable night for the travelling support.

Over the course of the campaign it is difficult to pick out individuals who have inspired their team to progression, as the upturn in fortunes must be accredited to a collective team effort. Undoubtedly Chelsea’s senior players have led this, and Didier Drogba, out of contract in the summer and facing an exit from the club, must get credit for his goals and leading from the front. Di Matteo’s tactics and man management must also be heralded, and the Italian must surely be given a permanent place on the Stamford Bridge hotseat should his team defeat Bayern in the final.

At times with more grit than guile, Bayern and Chelsea deserve their places in what should be a blood and thunder final. The Bavarians have an exemplary home record, but on current form, if anyone can beat them at the Allianz Arena it may well be the west London outfit.

Published – Soccerlens

Who will be next in a long line of unfortunate Chelsea managers?

Roman Abramovich’s ever-revolving door of Chelsea managers seems to have always been a hot topic in the press and as we are nearing the end of the season, is Robbie’s time as interim first team coach up? Among the fans Di Matteo has been a hit, and there is no doubt that the dressing room atmosphere has dramatically improved from the previous dictatorship of AVB. But surely Abramovich will want a big name for the job; will he have the same fate as the unsuccessful Andre Villas-Boas, or will he restore Chelsea to it’s former glory and lead them into a new era of Premier League dominance?

Rafael Benitez

Although far from a favourite for Chelsea fans, Benitez is definitely one of the bookies’ frontrunners and from Abramovich’s point of view, you can see why he might want the ex-Liverpool manager to take up the reins. Benitez had an extremely successful career with Liverpool from 2004-2010, winning the UEFA Champions League in his first season after being 3-0 down to AC Milan. He also brought in super striker Fernando Torres, who scored 33 goals in his first season under the coach’s guidance but has now been hugely under-performing at the exact club Benitez could join. It is, therefore, very possible that these two things are the very reason Abramovich might want to appoint Benitez – a Champions League trophy and Fernando Torres’ return to the peak of his form.

José Mourinho

Unlike Benitez, “The Special One” is by far the fans’ and the media’s favourite. Currently managing La Liga leaders Real Madrid, there has been much speculation about a return to the Premier League. Mourinho had an extremely successful career at Chelsea and his controversial arrogance and ego was loved by the fans, and was reflected in Chelsea’s 64 consecutive home league matches without a defeat. Mourinho left the club unexpectedly in 2007 after disagreements with Abramovich, but many hope the Russian might just be man enough to forgive and forget for the good of the club. After leaving Stamford Bridge, the Portuguese manager took over Italian side Inter Milan and won four trophies in two seasons including the UEFA Champions League, and two Serie A titles. Many claim he is the best at what he does, but will he return to the place he was first called “The Special One”?

Pep Guardiola

Currently managing Catalan giants Barcelona, Guardiola has hinted at a move to the Premier League and there are many clubs that want him. The Blaugrana legend has a great record as manager of the Catalan side, losing only nineteen matches in his four-year career as boss of La Liga’s champions. He has also led Barcelona to victory in two FIFA Club World Cup finals, and has won the Spanish league three years in a row, however Barcelona are currently sitting in second place behind Mourinho’s Real Madrid. Although the Spaniard has denied the rumours concerning a move to west London, he could very well rethink his options if his side do not get past the resilient men in blue in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final. After suffering his first defeat at home in 54 consecutive matches, who knows what could happen at Camp Nou?

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo, a Chelsea legend, has done a great job at the club since the departure of AVB, seeing them into the FA Cup final and more importantly the UEFA Champions League semi-final against old rivals Barcelona and beating them in a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge. After the 5-1 slaughtering of Spurs in the semi-final of the FA Cup at Wembley, Di Matteo could very well claim some silverware, as the Reds of Merseyside – who Chelsea will face in the FA Cup final – have experienced a dramatic drop in form over the past months. Although Abramovich will want a big name in, Di Matteo’s chances of full-time management could well depend on the upcoming results in the FA Cup final and the UEFA Champions League semi-final.

Laurent Blanc

A footballing legend capping 627 appearances at nine different clubs – including Barcelona, Marseille, Inter Milan, and Manchester United. Presently, Blanc is the manager of France and will be leading the national team into Euro 2012 this year. The 46-year-old will be hoping to lead his side to victory with a particularly strong starting XI, including Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery and Real Madrid hitman Karim Benzema. Although not being a favourite for the Chelsea job, Blanc could very well be suited for position, proving just how good a club manager he can be after a wonderful season at Bordeaux, winning Ligue 1 in the 2008-09 season. His future at Les Bleus is still unclear, as he is yet to sign a contract extension also.

By Jacob Tucker

Seven stars on the verge of missing out on Euro 2012

With only a couple of months before Euro 2012, and the teams and groups decided, the last thing to be confirmed are each nation’s squads. With the tournament only being played once every four years, it may be some players’ last chance to feature, with all the major superstars keen to playin Ukraine and Poland. However, some more than others are in danger of missing out through injury, poor form or selection issues at club level; here are the top seven sitting on the fence.

Fernando Torres

The World Cup winning striker has lost his way since the last major international tournament, and is no longer guaranteed a place in Vicente del Bosque’s Spain squad. With a barren spell at Chelsea blighting El Nino’s career, the likes of Alvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado and Fernando Llorente could get the nod ahead of Torres.

Jermain Defoe

One of the most clinical strikers in the Premier League when given an opportunity, Defoe has had a frustrating season in and out of the Tottenham side. With Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael van der Vaart ahead of the Englishman in Harry Redknapp’s preferences, Defoe may well miss out on the competition due to lack of playing time.

Mario Balotelli

During the qualifiers Cesare Prandelli used the Manchester City forward on a regular basis, and Balotelli started to lead the line towards the end of that campaign. However, the national selector recently left Super Mario out of his squad for a friendly against the United States, claiming Balotelli’s immaturity and indiscipline as the reason.

David Villa

Spain and Barcelona star Villa would have been a certainty had he been fit, but a broken leg in the Club World Cup in December has the Camp Nou man cutting it fine. Villa should make it back to club action before the end of the season, but with the number of Spanish attackers available, is not guaranteed participation.

Giuseppe Rossi

Another star to pick up a serious injury, Rossi ruptured knee ligaments in October, and has been through a strenuous rehabilitation process since. The Villarreal forward was in Prandelli’s preferences before the setback, and has targeted April for a possible return to action.

Raul Albiol

With Jose Mourinho using Sergio Ramos in the centre of his Real Madrid defence alongside either Pepe or Ricardo Carvalho, Albiol is a serious doubt for Euro 2012. The ex-Valencia man has only made five appearances in the Primera Division this term, and with versatile Javi Martinez and Sergio Busquets also being able to play at the back, Albiol needs a miracle to be included.

Jack Wilshere

The Arsenal playmaker has not played a minute of football this season due to a knee injury in pre-season, although Arsene Wenger has promised that his star will be available before the end of the Premier League campaign. However with Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker, Tom Cleverley, Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick and maybe even Paul Scholes in contention for a place in the centre of the park, Wilshere needs to hurry up.

Published – footylatest

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