For women who love football, and for men who love it when women know the football game.

womenforfootball.com – These players’ names will surely ring a bell for die-hard football fans. The memories of their goals, celebrations and defeats at 1998 or 2002 World Cup games cannot be wiped out of mind. Yet, these former stars did not left football for good. Almost immediately after their retirement, they kick started their coaching career; some of whom are now among the most successful managers in Europe.

Amongst the long list of former stars, only the ones who are younger than 50 years-old, manage a top Division league team or a national team, and who are currently in charge of a team are included. In no particular order:

  1. Luis Enrique: Currently 44 years old, Luis Enrique was part of Spain’s 1998 and 2002 world Cup squad, netting many goals for Spain. In his managerial journey, he worked his way up starting from Barcelona B in 2008 and is currently the manager of one of the top teams in Europe, Barcelona.
  2. Diego Simeone: The 44-years old Diego Simeone is one of the well-known former Argentina national team stars of 1998 and 2002 World Cup games. He kick-started his managerial career in 2006 starting with La Liga’s Racing all the way up to Atletico Madrid, where he has marked a remarkable record at his current club.
  3. Roberto Carlos: Former Brazil national team’s super star, who is now 41- years old, has also pursued managerial route. Most famous for his outstanding goals as left-back, upon his playing retirement, he started his coaching career at Brazil’s União São João. He is currently in charge of Turkish side, Akhisar Belediyespor.
  4. Fabio Cannavaro: The prolific Italian defender, and winner of 2006 FIFA World Cup player of the Year, is now 41 years old and just recently initiated his managerial journey. Ever since 2014, he is in charge of China’s professional league side Guangzhou Evergrande.
  5. Laurent Blanc: The well-known former French international back in 1998 World Cup, 49-years old Laurent Blanc has had successful spells as manager. Starting with French side Bordeaux in 2007, he is currently the manager of Ligue 1 title contender, Paris Saint German.
  6.  Didier Deschamp : Another French international that made the list is Didier Deschamp. The 46-year old former defender featured for France at 1998 World Cup. He initiated his managerial reign as early as 2001, starting with Monaco and has had impressive coaching record ever since and is currently the manager of France National team.
  7. Frank De Boer: All the passionate football fans would likely remember Frank De Boer. The prolific Dutch centre back was a crucial part of Netherland’s semi-final spot at 1998 World Cup. Soon after, he pursued his managerial path starting with Ajax Youth team. Currently 44, he is now in charge of Ajax team, who has had outstanding record in domestic league.
  8. Vincenzo Montella: Montella was one of the top strikers of Italy during his playing career. Starring in 1998 and also 2002 World Cup, he hung his boots in 2008. As a manager, he first took reign of AS Roma. Currently 40 years old, he is now in charge of Fiorentina team in Serie-A.
  9. Roberto Di Matteo: Another Italian in this list is Roberto Di Matteo. The former striker featured for Italy back in 1998. Immediately after retiring, he started his coaching career by taking reign of English 2nd team tier team, Milton Keynes Dons. Known for his Champions League win with Chelsea, at 44, he is now in charge of Bundesliga’s Schalke.
  10. Filippo Inzaghi: Last but not least is Filippo Inzaghi. The former Italian striker was one of the icons of Italian football during his playing career. Even to date, he carries the record of fourth-highest scorer in European club competitions with 70 goals under his name. Now 41, he is in charge of AC Milan.

womenforfootball.com – 2014-2015 Season has been a rough one for Barcelona so far. Half way through the season and they are not leading the table as they used to. In fact, they are outpaced by their fiercest rival, Real Madrid, and are trailing Los Blancos by 2 points so far. And Athletico Madrid is not too far away to catch Barcelona with 5 points fewer than them.

Despite all that, all three strikers of Barcelona- Messi, Neymar and Suarez- are in top form, scoring goals almost in each game, and providing numerous assists to others. As witnessed throughout the recent games, Luis Suarez has slowly reached his top form at Barcelona too. Considering all three strikers’ fantastic performances so far, I always wondered which one is doing better than the other two this season. So the question is, which of the three strikers leads the other two in terms of goals and assists? And between them how many goals and assists are exchanged?

To answer these questions, I pulled out data from Barcelona’s 2014-2015 season so far, in addition to their Cup games and UEFA Champions League games and counted each of Messi, Neymar and Suarez’s goal and Assist tally.

total-goals-assists-Barcelona

As per chart below, Messi is the leading goal scorer and also assist provider compared to his counterparts, Neymar and Suarez. Messi has netted 39 goals and has provided 16 assists to his team mates so far into the season. Neymar is 2nd best striker of Barcelona with 27 goals and 4 assists. Suarez is technically 3rd with 10 goals and 11 assists so far. However, interestingly, Suarez’s number of Assists has outpaced Neymar’s so far.

Incredibly, the three strikers have scored 76 goals and provided 31 assists so far for Barcelona this season. In that sense, to see which of the three has highest impact, here is a pie-chart that shows each of the striker’s tally of goals and assists as percentage of total goals and assists of the three strikers. As shown in the pie-chart below, Messi is still carrying the burden of the team with 51% impact, Neymar has 29% impact and Suarez has 20% impact. Of course as mentioned, these data include domestic league games, Cup games and UEFA Champions League games.

Barcelona's 3 strikers pie-chart

Barcelona’s 3 strikers pie-chart

It would be interesting to witness how these stats will change by end of the season. Considering the controversial spat between Barcelona’s new coach, Luis Enrique with Lionel Messi off the pitch and rumors of Messi leaving Barcelona next season, this data perhaps convinces Luis Enrique that losing Messi would have huge impact on his team’s scoring sheet; With these stats, that would potentially result in 51% reduction in number of goals and assists in Barcelona’s games. Also, these stats, shows Luis Suarez’s improving record in Barcelona’s front line and it would be interesting to see if he will catch Neymar’s record by the end of season or not.

womenforfootball- It is that time of the year that the debate of Messi or Ronaldo heats up. For long, football fans zoom in on two of the greatest footballers, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo place them against each other in each game to prove who is better. Once again three of the best footballers compete for Football’s most prestigious individual Award, Ballon D’or. The winner of Fifa’s 2014 Ballon d’Or will be announced on 12 January with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi of Bareclona and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer vying for the title.

It is important to note that, based on Ballon d’Or criteria, each nominee will be ranked based on their individual performance, not team performance, in Calendar year and not football season.

So in that light, I have number crunched each of these three players’ success rate in Calendar year of 2014: From January 2014 until end of Dec 2014.

Considering Messi and Ronaldo play offensive roles as forwards or at times attacking midfielder, their success rates are Number of total Goals scored in their total appearances. Therefore, their Goal tally ratio. Their total goals include all Club competitions and their World Cup appearances.

In comparison, since Manuel Neur is a goalkeeper, his success rate for the sake of this article, was considered as Save Ratio, which is Total Saves in his total number of appearances.

As shown in the chart:

  • Ronaldo has scored 63 goals in 64 appearances in 2014
  • Messi had scored 59 goals in 68 appearances in 2014
  • Ronaldo had 11 doubles (2 goals in one match) and 3 Hat-tricks(3 goals) in 2014
  • Messi had 11 doubles and 5 Hat-tricks in 2014

Ronaldo or Messi 2014

Or if shown in more detail:

Messi or Ronaldo 2014

Another nominee is the well-known goalkeeper,Manuel Neur. Manuel Neur had an astonishing 87.95% Save ratio in 2014. Including 89.7% Save percentage at Bundesliga, and 86.2% save ratio at World Cup games which led to his Bundesliga Player of the Year, and Golden Gloves Award in World Cup 2014. In this chart, Neur’s improvement Year over Year is shown, in which he had 82% Save ratio in 2013, but in 2014 his save rate was improved to 87.95%. The chart is shown below:

Neur

So the jury is up to Coaches , Captains of the teams and Journalists around the world to pick the one who most deserves Ballon d’Or Award on January 12th. Maybe it is about time that a consistent top goalkeeper wins this Award instead of a striker, or maybe some argue, it is about time Ronaldo wins the battle against Messi.

womenforfootball.com: 2014 has been one of the darkest years in English Premier side, Arsenal’s recent history so far. Marred by losses to weaker teams, along with poor record in defense and usual long list of injuries, the team could not be more disappointed. So are Arsenal fans really. For the first time, Arsene Wenger, the professor who earned “The Invincible” for the club, is being booed after each stalemate or loss. And the stadium is filled with banners of protesting fans.

Despite impressive performances by new signings ; Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, and Calum Chambers, from the get go, fans witnessed something is still missing. Something that they clearly feel its void ever since Patrick Vieira’s departure back in 2005. A strong holding midfielder, as he was, that could stop the opponents’ penetration even before it is faced by defenders. A central midfield void that could not be filled by goal-hungry Fabregas, and is not yet by Ramsey. And strong defensive pack that were far more keen on man marking back then than their current successors.

Putting all numbers together, so far this season, Arsenal has conceded 18 goals, worse than the last two seasons in the same time span. They also have one of the lowest total points of the past five years, mainly due to their deterioting win ratio. With only six victories so far, they have second worst win ratio record of their past five years.

Easier it gets for Arsenal squad to concede goals, harder it gets for Arsenal’s top strikers to make up for the conceded goals and secure a win.

The chart below shows Arsenal’s record in the past five seasons in terms of Number of Goals scored, number of victories, and points achieved by week 15.

Arsenal-defense

In essence, the chart proves that despite adding firepower to Arsenal’s front line during Summer transfer, the defensive problems and the void in central midfield persists and is getting worse Year over Year.

Perhaps, during January transfer market, Arsenal club may need to aim for New year’s resolution of a strong Central Midfielder and few defenders, rather than a mere wishing for a better year.

womenforfootball.com- Yesterday, as I was juggling with my full time job, writing a football article and many more things, I also finally put the time aside to register my name for 2015 Canada Pan Am Games’ Torch Relay Contest! I feel so excited and really looking forward to get a call from Pan Am games’ officials that I will be one of the lucky Torch Bearers at the games next Summer. According to the website, they will announce the list of Torch Bearers by the end of December 2014.

TorchRelayContest

If you have not already done so, you can visit www.toronto2015.org/torch-relay  and register your name and the reason why you are interested to be one of the Torch Bearer at the games.

I have also submitted my application to volunteer at 2015 Pan Am games next Summer. After initial form application submission, you will be contacted to pass an online interview and they will inform you of the position and duties by end of 2014.

To volunteer at 2015 Pan Am Games, visit this page and be part of the game like many other Canadians.

womenforfootball.com – Another exciting round of UEFA Champions League games are underway. There have been three matches played by teams in Group games so far and there are three more left before knock-out stage of the Competition.

Although we are only half-way through the group games, there are several interesting facts and records about the games so far, that are worth listing here.

Five interesting facts about Champions league 2014-2015:

  1. Highest margin of victory: This week, in series of Match three games of UEFA Champions League, four matches contained five goals or more each game: Bayern Munich 7–1 Roma, Shakhtar 7-0 Bate, Chelsea 6-0 Mairbor, and Atletico Madrid- Malmao 5-0. Never before, the margin of goals and trashing of opponents occurred in so many instances within one week.
  2. Highest scoring teams: So far Primeira’s Porto and La Liga’s Real Madrid have proved to be the scoring machines of the competition, each scoring ten goals so far. Bundesliga’s Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund follow closely with nine goals scored each so far.
  3. Manchester City’s dismal Champions League record: Manchester City, despite winning domestic league silverware, have been continuously the most underperforming English team in Champions League. In the past five seasons, only once they managed to advance to knock out stage. This season, it seems the dismal trend has dragged on with the team; With three games into the competition, they are placed third behind Bayern Munich and Roma with seven point difference with top team.
  4. The most contested Group: With three weeks into the games, Group A seems to be the most contested group, with only three points differentiating between the group leader and lowest ranked team.
  5. Record Breaking Ronaldo: Cristiano Ronaldo, who has two goals under his name so far in the games, is just one goal shy of reaching Raul’s record as highest scoring player in Champions League history. Legendary Raul and former Real Madrid player, had scored 70 goals in UEFA Champions League and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the same outfit will soon reach that milestone.

womenforfootball.com –

Last year this time, Manchester United fans were fuming over the Red Devil’s poor start in 2013-2014 season. Slowly, chants against David Moyes, Ferguson’s hand-picked manager, echoed throughout Old Trafford. Six games into the new season only, and Manchester United have managed to gain seven points from maximum 18 points. While in charge, Englishman, David Moyes sealed around £65million in two transfer windows, breaking the club’s record transfer fee to bring Juan Mata to Old Trafford. Although he was eventually dismissed in April, but by the end of the season, Manchester United finished in seventh spot; A rare ranking that disqualified them from elite Champions League games.

Fast forward to this season, the well know Dutch manager, Van Gaal was brought on board with long list of wanted players and promises of rebuilding the team. Upon his arrival, Van Gaal was allowed to spend near-triple Moyes’ transfer sum and demolished that record transfer fee once again by signing Angel Di Maria for £59.7m. But six games into the new season, are Manchester United faring better than David Moyes’ era? We will find out in this article by comparing the points gained in each games and quality of opponents.

During David Moyes’ first six games, Manchester United played three Home games against:

Chelsea(0-0), Crystal Palace(won 2-0), West Brom(Lost 1-2): 4 points from maximum 9 points.

Red Devils also played three Away games against: Swansea(won 4-1), Liverpool(Lost 1-0), Man city(Lost 1-4): 3 points from 9 points.

In total, Manchester United recorded two wins, one draw and three losses. In terms of quality of opponents, two of their opponents in the first six games under Moyes were against top tier games, including Chelsea and Manchester City. As it is well recalled, in 2012, Manchester City finished as the Runner-up and Chelsea was 3rd in EPL ranking.

In comparison, during Luis Van Gaal’s tenure in the first six games, Manchester United have played these three Home games: Swansea(Lost 1-2), QPR(Won 4-0), West Ham(Won 2-1) : 6 points from maximum 9 points.

Also these are the results in the three Away games against: Sunderland(1-1), Burnley(0-0), Leicester city(Lost 3-5): No win yet. 2 points from 9 points.

In total, under Van Gaal, Manchester United have secured 8 points from maximum 18 points. Only a mere one point more than Moyes’ record, while the quality of opponents in the first six games this season has been arguably rather poor.

Also as the history of Manchester United shows, if the club was placed at fifth spot or lower in the first few games, they had never managed to bounce back to top four spot again by the end of the season.

To summarize the head to head comparison between Englishman David Moyes and Dutch manager, Van Gaal, here are the interesting findings:

  1. No away win recorded by Van Gaal yet, versus Moyes’ one away win during the same period.
  2. Manchester United have conceded nine goals in six games under Van Gaal, versus eight goals under Moyes.
  3. Van Gaal has spent £59.7M or 3x times Moyes in transfer market.
  4. No top tier team in the first six matches yet under Van Gaal, compare to Moyes’ games against Chelse and Manchester City.
  5. Van Gaal has secured one point more than Moyes’ time during the same period.
  6. Manchester United have recorded third worst start in EPL under Van Gaal, versus Moyes’ worst start in EPL history.

The question is this: Is spending three times more than the previous manager, while playing weaker opponents and only securing one point more than preceding manager, worth the big investment Manchester United made in Summer transfer market rebuilding whole new team with a new manager?

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