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

womenforfootball.com- The 15th edition of UEFA Euro Cup 2016 came to an end in a disappointing fashion in Paris on Sunday. Disappointing, not only because the host nation, France, saw Championship trophy slip off their hands to Portugal in extra time of the Final. Not only because defending Champions, Spain was knocked out early in the Tournament. Not only because we saw ever increasing and yawning group games due to expansion of 16 to 24 teams this time.

Euro Cup competition, the most important competition in Europe and one of the most popular competitions around the globe this time around was at best a dull set of games played under a branded Tournament. Euro 2016, with 24 teams participating instead of the usual 16, kicked off with 6 Groups of 4, instead of 4 Groups of 4.

Instead of usual competitive nature of group games, in which only 2 top teams could advance from each group, in Euro 2016, majority of the 3rd team of groups could also advance to knock-out stage: Leaving many weaker teams less motivated to try their best to make it to top 2. The result was low quality and cautionary group games, in which teams advanced with fewer victories compared to Euro 2012. Number of points top teams of groups earned were also %30 lower than Euro 2012.

Moving on to knock-out stage, naturally as many teams do, teams played with tight defense to avoid conceding goals, even at the cost of leading up to Penalty Kicks. Round of 16 games were added to the format of competition for the first time. Round of 16 games saw surprising result of England and Spain’s elimination, with historic record by passionate first-timers, Iceland, making it to Quarter Finals for the first time in the country of 320,000 people.

Even the Final did not contain as much action and excitement as the final of previous rounds of Euro 2016. With Portugal guarding their net with majority of their players, counting on goals from counter-attack, the Final of Euro 2016, could easily be likened to Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph through their defensive tactics. Overall , throughout the competition, average number of goal attempts made by all teams were significantly lower than Euro 2012. So was Goal per Game ratio.
Here are 4 metrics to compare competitiveness and excitement of Euro 2016 to previous round of Euro Cup competition. Each metric is shown in chart for more clarity:

1. Average number of victories in each Group game: In Euro 2016, in average, teams could advance from Group stage to Knock-out stage with only 1.25 victories. In Euro 2012 however, with tighter rules in Group stage, teams advanced with average of 1.75 victories.

Average victories in group stage, Euro 2016

2. Average team points in Group games: In Euro 2016, with new relaxed rules, competition was lower in group games, and teams who did advance from Group games, did so with much lower points needed. In average, teams that advanced from group games, did so with 5.37 points. That has decreased compare to an average of 6 points back in Euro 2012.

Euro 2016 group games

3. Goals per match ratio: Throughout the whole competition, in Euro 2016, number of goals per game in average was 2.12 goals. That pares in comparison to 2.45 goals in average in Euro 2012.

Goals per Match Ratio, Euro 2016

4. Goal Attempts: This is a key metric that indicates how often teams were on offensive and their eagerness to dominate and score. For this purpose, goal attempts include both on-target and off-target chances created by teams. Throughout the competition, in Euro 2016, in average, 42 goal attempts were made by teams. This is almost %20 lower than goal attempts of Euro 2012. In Euro 2012, in average, teams created 51 goal attempts throughout competition.

Goal Attempts, Euro 2016

It is not all doom and gloom though. Although with more teams participating, quality of Euro games deteriorated as evident for viewers, and backed by data, but on the positive side, in Euro 2016, the so called outsiders, in most cases perfectly challenged old-timers. Likes of Iceland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Slovakia, couple of times within their means, stalled the heartbeat of their strong opponents. And those heart-stopping moments are what makes football exciting to watch.

womenforfootball.com- Between whispers of desire among lovers in avenues of Paris, shouts of labour movements in the streets, and flooded rural area, there is another major event jazzing up the French streets this Summer. 15th Edition of Euro Cup, or European Championship will be hosted by France starting June 10th until July 10th.

Euro-cup-Wordpress

Credit: uefa.com

For the first time in Tournament’s history, 24 European National teams will vie for the prestigious continental trophy; A significant increase from the usual 16-team Tournament.

Euro Cup is considered as one of the top Football Tournaments in the World.

As this exciting football Tournament kick-off in fewer than 12 hours of writing this article, we take a look at 5 interesting facts about Euro Cup 2016:

  1. Youngest squad: Switzerland.  Amongst 24 European giants, Switzerland has the youngest squad with average age of 26 years.  The oldest squad you may ask? That would be Slovakia with average age of 30.7.
  1. Coaches with previous experience at European National teams:
  • Romania’s manager, Angel Iordănescu at Euro 2016 takes helm of the team for the 3rd time actually.
  • Same at Turkey team: Turkey’s manager, Fatih Terim will manage Turkey National team for the 3rd time
  • England’s manager, Roy Hodgson had managed Switzerland back in 1992 and Finland in 2006.
  • Hungary’s coach, Bernd, had coached Kazakhstan before.
  •  Iceland’s manager, Lagerbäck, had coached Sweden in the past.
  • Portugal’s manager, Santos had coached Greece National team before.
  1. First time qualifiers: In Euro 2016, there are 4 teams who are considered first-timers to the Tournament: Iceland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Albania, all made it to UEFA EURO 2016 for the first time this year.
  1. Teams without European trophy: Amongst current 24 participants, only 5 teams have won Euro Cup before. Spain, Germany, Italy, Czech and France, have won European Championship before. Therefore, if any other National team, except the 5 teams above, wins Euro 2016, that would be a record and their first Euro Cup trophy.
  1. Teams with highest EU trophies: Spain and Germany are tied with this honor, having won Euro Cup 3 times before. France has won the European trophy twice.

We shall see how this tournament change the stats above. Which team will hold Euro Cup trophy this time? Will an underdog European team advance to the Final? What do you think?

Please share your thoughts and predictions in comment section below, and don’t forget to watch the games!

 

womenforfootball.com- Last we checked it is year 2016, more than a decade into 21st century, and yet in very few countries, women are not allowed to enter stadiums to attend men’s football games. To put it into Canadian perspective, it is as if a Canadian man, father of two, cannot take his daughter to Toronto FC Match or Canada men’s National Soccer team match at BMO field or other football (soccer) arenas in Canada, but can take his son with him. His daughter would be barred from the stadium by entrance gate’s security guards, because of her gender. It is laughable and gruesome at the same time. While we are at it, this girl is not allowed watch the game and support her team with her guy or girlfriends either at a sport bar or café.

There is a caveat though: If Canada men’s National soccer team were to host France National team for example, it would be perfectly fine for French female fans to enter BMO field to attend the game; Infuriating, is it not?!

Well, this is what has been going on for decades in 2 countries in particular amongst 211 football associations.

In Iran, since 1979 revolution, under no circumstances, Iranian women would be allowed to attend men’s football games. Vulgar words used by some football fans, is used as a reason by Iran football officials and politicians to refuse the entry to female football fans.

Despite the fact that:

  1. Iran, country of 77 million people, has the largest football fan base in Asia.
  2. Prior to 1979, there was freedom of match attendance for both men and women in Iran, and many female football fans would attend the games every week.
  3. The growth of Iran women football teams, and attendance numbers by Iranian female football fans in Iran’s games, out of the country, proves the popularity and passion for football among Iranian women.
Iranian female football players 1970

Iranian female football players in 1960’s

Iranian female football fans are also banned from watching football at cafés  in Iran, due to fear of “mixing with men” according to Iran officials.

This discriminatory mandate hurts even more, when female fans or reporters of other nationalities can freely attend the games in stadiums in Iran, such as finale of Iran’s Premier League soccer season on May 13, 2016, where security officials let Perspolis’s Croatian coach’s wife and daughter into the stadium for Perspolis and Rah Ahan match, but continued to bar Iranian female fans.  However, that did not prevent eager female football fans from sneaking into the arena. In one instance, a girl whom according to her claim had worn 5 shirts and 5 pants and pretending to be a guy,  sneaked passed suspicious security guards and entered the arena in May 2016. Later, she posted a selfie of herself on Instagram showing her support for one of the teams in the Final.

female football fan Azadi stadium

Iranian female football fan secretly entering Iran stadium Credit: Shakiba_hni Instagram page

The same law is applied in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, apart from the ban for women to drive, Saudi female football fans are also barred from attending men’s games. But foreign nationals are exempted: Recently female supporters of Australian club, Western Sydney Wanderers, were allowed to enter King Fahd International Football Stadium in Riyadh for AFC Champions League match.

Both countries’ discriminatory practice is against article three of FIFA, which indicates: “Discrimination of any kind against any Country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

Iran and Saudi Arabia are practically the only 2 countries amongst 211 FIFA member Associations who practice such ban on their female football fans.

In their neighbouring countries, though women are allowed to enter stadiums, despite their passion for football, there is cultural barriers in the society that views “women’s passion for football as odd and a sign of masculinity of those women”. Therefore, in countries such as Turkey, UAE, Lebanon and Algeria, many female football fans choose to secretly watch football games at home and on TV, rather than attending the games at stadiums.

Here is a chart to visually display the restrictions in such countries:

countries with limitations for female football fans

Countries with limitations for female football fans

Whereas, 205 other football associations have no restrictions and complete freedom for female football fans to attend men’s football games. Here is a chart to demonstrate such countries:

countries with freedom of entry for female football fans

Countries with freedom of entry for female football fans

One interesting incident happened in Turkey, where due to hooliganism at the match between Fenerbahce and Shakhtar Donetsk. Turkey football officials, as punishment for Fenerbahce’s male fans, ruled to only let women and children into the stadium for the next match. It is a discriminatory practice on its own too, but the stadium was filled with passionate female football fans, of all ages, without any violent incidence.

Here is the video of how 41,000 women and children filled Fenerbahce’s stadium back in 2011.

In another article, I will cover the growth of women football leagues in different countries, and how many countries have women football leagues, and which countries do not.

Until then, the hope is that Iran and Saudi Arabia put an end to their discriminatory and sexist practice against their own countries’ female football fans, and for FIFA to enforce their own standards on their member associations.

(womenforfootball.com)- The only club in Europe currently battling with crisis is not Liverpool  for being 9th spot, Chelsea for their mid-table spot. It is not Manchester United being out of Champions league contention, nor is it Real Madrid with their young coach. It is Arsenal, which is in its worst club crisis ever witnessed. The clubs’ extremely patient fans are boiling in anger, booing their once legendary coach during the match, holding up banner wanting “Kroenke(Club owner)out”, even to the point of total division with fist fight against each other, outside the stadium, out of frustration, after the mediocre Arsenal games.

Is current height of crisis at Arsenal surprising? Not for the team supporters who have been through thick and thin of the club for decades. It is not surprising for pundits, including former Arsenal squad members.

For the 12th season in a row Arsenal look set to miss out on the Premier League title.

For the 6th year in a row, Arsenal was knocked out of Champions league games in first round of knock out stage.

For the first time in 21 years, Tottenham could finish above Arsenal at the end of the season.

With Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United all out of title contention from the first few weeks of the season, Arsenal faced little competition from big guns for title contention this season.

Arsenal Kroenke Wenger

The reasons for Arsenal miseries have piled up over several years, in which here we look at top 5 reasons for the historical crisis Arsenal is facing these days.

1. Club ownership & Kroenke’s poor management: Ever since the Billionaire American Sport investor Stan Kroenke pinched in and bought shares at Arsenal back in 2007 all the way to become the club owner in 2016, the club has been in financial prudence instead of making squad rejuvenation, while increasing ticket prices. Speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston recently, Korenke had said: “If you want to win championships then you would never get involved. I think the best owners in sports are the guys that sort of watch both sides a bit. If you don’t have a good business, then you can’t really afford to go out and get the best players unless you just want to rely on other sources of income.” (Evening standard) After these comments, furious Arsenal fans have started petition to remove Kroenke as the owner.

2. Squad depth: It is not about age, but Arsenal truly lacks depth in defense and central midfield. Something that has not been addressed ever since departure of Patrick Vieira, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and alikes. Buying the experienced Peter Cech- the most impressive Arsenal player throughout the season- is not enough as the team continues to fail in offside strategy against opponents, and defenders are constantly left behind quick strikers of opponent team.

3. The number of big-name players Arsenal have lost over the years is mind-boggling in comparison to their young replacements. Henry, Pires, Vieira, Sagna, Petit, Ljunberg, Clichy are amongst the many who could not be replaced. Things are so severe that Arsenal even lacks a leader on the pitch as a team Captain.

4. Aiming for Champions League revenue than title: As painful as it sounds, Arsenal board members and even the manager for too long relied on top 4 finish in English Premier League to merely make it to UEFA Champions League the following season. Without any specific success target, Arsenal is perceived to play at Champions League to only receive the € 12m compensation for qualifying. Yet, the team displays the same errors in elite European games, and continue to be ousted by their opponents early in the games.

5. Disconnect between Arsenal board members and Club fans: The worst fate for a club happens when the club members do not listen to the team supporters’ needs, pundits and media. The team supporters have the most genuine feedback of the games, as they see improving or worsening condition of the team week-in week-out, while paying for the tickets and chanting for the team’s success.

In recent years, even the experienced and former squad members of Arsenal, amongst the pundits, have publicly voiced their concerns about squad depth, club’s poor management, and club’s mistakes in transfer market. But they are not being listened to by the Arsene Wenger, or any of club hierarchy. This disconnect has created a toxic sense of Arsenal club board members and the coach being egocentric corporation, who do not listen to the employees or the customers of the company. We all know the ill-fate of such corporations, and Arsenal club is quickly reaching the end point against furious club fans who have started shouting “we have had enough.”

It is unclear when changes will happen as a result of the brewing crisis at Arsenal, but whether this season or next, such crisis will not end without a casualty at hierarchy of the club.

Womenforfootball.com – Pep Guardiola, “The genius coach of modern football”, as he is called by majority of football managers, professional players and pundits, is on his way to English Premier League(Source: ESPN). The young Spaniard made the announcement in an official press conference last month, although he still has 4 months remaining into his contract at Bayern Munich.
Criticized by Bayern Munich fans for not repeating the same glories as his predecessor, Guardiola has set his eyes on the lucrative and competitive English Premier League as his next destination. The question is, which club team will he take reign of?

Reportedly, there is several English Premier League clubs competing for his contract signature, but the most serious ones are reportedly Manchester United and Manchester City.

Here we will discuss which Manchester team he will likely join and why?

Pep

Manchester City: The fifth most valuable club is owned by Abu Dhabi Royal family, yet the manager is given full authority to buy any player he wants, without interference of owners. Since 2013, the team has been coached by Manuel Pellegrini. Over the recent years, Chilean tactician has kept the team in balance by being consistently among the top 4 English teams.

The most notable glory is winning English Premier league title back in 2013-2014. They have also appeared at all Champions League games in recent years; Although they could not go past Round of 16 of Champions League. In 2013-2014, Manchester City were drawn against reigning Champions, Barcelona, which led to their elimination from Competition. And in following season, they were drawn against Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich team, which they were outpaced by Bavarians in 2nd leg-match. Currently placed in 3rd spot, 1 point shy of table-leaders, Arsenal, again they have a great chance of qualification to Champions League next season. Definitely, something their Persian Gulf investors see lacking in this team is UEFA Champions League glory, and they are looking for a tactician who has experience of UEFA Champions League glory.

Manchester United: The Red Devils have a different story,as they are perfect example of a team in crisis. Their legendary title-winning manager, Alex Ferguson, retired in 2013 and ever since they have tried out 3 different managers, with millions in new transfers, but the team have yet to see a good day.

In 2013-2014, the first season following their coach’s retirement, they finished 7th in English Premier league, even worse they missed out on Champions League and any other European competition in the following season. In 2014-2015, after splashing out millions for new players under their new manager, they managed to finish 4th in the league and made it to Champions League. As it stands, Manchester United is currently in 5th spot, 7 points off the table leaders. If their games remain as rocky as it is now, they will again miss out on Champions League qualification for next season.

Between Manchester United and Manchester City, Manchester United is definitely more in crisis, requiring more urgent help, than does Manchester City:

Manchester City has already won English Premier League title and a League Cup in the past 3 years. They have qualified for Champions League games every season, and have been competitive in all their Champions League appearances.Whereas, Manchester United has not won any title since 2013 and have missed out on European Champions League most recently, and may miss out again next season.

The caliber and importance of Manchester United as a famed brand and established club in English football cannot be disputed either. Whereas, in Manchester City’s case, fair or not, any success by the club is associated with their rich owners’ spending-spree, not their history or competitiveness.

To put all into perspective, Pep Guardiola can make his mark more at Manchester United. They need him more desperately at Old Trafford, and he has a unique chance that whatever he achieves under his reign, will outperform his predecessors. Even better, he will be the manager of one of the most well-known football clubs in the World, with immensely royal fan-base. It will be up to Pep Guardiola if he wants to take this challenge, but if he does, it may turn out to be his best managerial chance he has ever faced.

Womenforfootball.com – As appeared on Swol.co:

The most prestigious national football competition in Europe is just around the corner. In Summer 2016, France will host the most important National football competition in Europe. Euro Cup is a competition among elite qualified European football countries. Similar to World Cup games, Euro Cup games are held every 4 years. If fans recall, Euro Cup 2012 Final was a breathtaking match between Spain and Italy, in which Spain came out victorious in a 4-0 win.

However, as of this time and for the first time in this competition, number of teams has increased from 16 teams to 24 teams. Whether, that will affect the qualify of Euro Cup games, that remain to be seen.

I have already applied for tickets for a chance to watch few Euro Cup games in 2016. Prior to applying for my ticket, I was puzled with several questions such as ticket price range and venue of the games, I thought to share the most commonly asked questions regarding Euro 2016.

Which cities will host Euro Cup 2016 games?
10 cities in France are set to host the games. All major cities in fact. Amongst them, beautiful harbour cities as well.  The host cities are: Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.
The opening match will kick off on Friday June 10th in Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis- a suburb of Paris- which is located just 9km North of Paris.

When and where will be the Final game of Euro 2016?
The exhilarating Final match will be held on Sunday July 10th at Stade de France in Saint Denis, which is suburb area North of Paris.

How long is Euro Cup 2016 games?
Euro Cup 2016 games will last for one month. The opening game will kick off on June 10th and the Final or the last game of the Competition will be on July 10th.

Which teams will play in Euro Cup 2016?
Starting in this competition, 24 teams- increased from the usual 16- will compete for one Continental glory. All European teams have already gone through qualifying games and 24 of the best teams have secured their spot in Euro Cup 2016. These 24 teams are(in Alphabetical order):
1.    Albania
2.    Austria
3.    Belgium
4.    Croatia
5.    Czech Republic
6.    England
7.    France
8.    Germany
9.    Hungary
10.    Iceland
11.    Italy
12.    Northern Ireland
13.    Poland
14.    Portugal
15.    Republic of Ireland
16.    Romania
17.    Russia
18.    Slovakia
19.    Spain
20.    Sweden
21.    Switzerland
22.    Turkey
23.    Ukraine
24.    Wales

Which top teams missed out of Euro Cup 2016?
Netherlands, Denmark, Scotland and Greece are well-known teams who failed to qualify to Euro 2016 games.

Which teams compete in each Group?

The draw for Euro Cup 2016 Group games were made in December, and 6 Groups are as follows:

Group A:

Albania, France, Romania, Switzerland

Group B:

England, Russia, Slovakia, Wales

Group C:

Germany, Northern Ireland, Poland, Ukraine

Group D:

Croatia, Czech, Spain, Turkey

Group E:

Belgium, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Sweden

Group F:

Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Portugal

What is the format of the games?
Since the number of teams has increased, so has the format of the games. 24 teams are grouped into 6 groups of 4 teams.  Top 2 teams from each group will advance to knock out stage.  Also, something else that is new is that the four best 3rd place teams of each group will also progress to the knock out stage. Therefore, 16 teams in total will advance to knock out stage(round of 16 games). In the knock-out stage, extra time and penalty shoot-out will decide the winner, if the result is a draw. In round of 16, only the winner of each match will advance to Quarter Finals. Then the top 8 teams will compete in Quarter Finals, and then top 4 will advance to Semifinals, until the best 2 teams go head to head in the Final match.

What is the price range of Euro Cup 2016 tickets?
Depending on the importance of the match and the location of stadium seats, the prices vary. But this chart by UEFA explains different pricing for each match:

Euro Cup 2016 Ticket Prices

Euro Cup Ticket Prices

In Group matches, the price range is between 25 Euro to 145 Euro. This price includes Tax but delivery cost is not included.
However, the price of Opening match is more expensive. The opening match, which according to the Draw will be between France and Romania, costs between 50 Euro to 450 Euro.

The price range of Round of 16 games in Euro Cup 2016 has the same price as Group matches: Between 25 Euro to 145 Euro.

The match prices increase for Quarter Final games. Quarter Final games will cost in the range of 45 Euro to 195 Euro.
Semi Final games will cost somewhere in range of 65 Eurp to 495 Euro.

Naturally the Final match will be the costliest match of the competition. The Final match price starts at 85 Euro and will go as high as 895 Euro for the best seating area of the stadium.

How is the seating arrangement in the stadium? What is the difference between Category 1 and Category 4 seats?
The seats of stadiums divided in 4 categories. The map below from UEFA shows the seating categories of stadiums:

Euro Cup Ticket category

Euro Cup Ticket category

Category 1 seats are centrally positioned seats, which really has the best view of the pitch.

Category 2 seats are mainly in the corners. The seats in corners do have a fairly good view as well.

Category 3 seats are behind the goals. The problem with seats behind the goal is that you almost miss out on goals scored on other side of the pitch. Although big screens are placed everywhere in the stadium. If one has a seat in upper part of Category 3, the eye view is not too bad though.

Category 4 seats are behind the goals and on the lowest and highest levels. Lets just say, if one gets a ticket in category 4 and in lowest level, they barely see anything with eye view, but fans would have better view in highest level behind the goal.

Fans of the participant teams will be located in the corners of the stadium.

How can I buy the tickets?
It is not too late to buy the tickets yet. Now that we know the draw of Euro Cup 2016 and exact matches, fans can apply for tickets knowing exactly which teams they would expect to watch.
You need to open an account on ticketing page of UEFA.com and then select the games you like to watch. Applicants can apply for up to 4 tickets for each match in one of the four price categories.

Tickets went on sale for public in December and until January 18th fans can apply for their favourite team’s tickets or single match tickets.  Then, new application will not be accepted until March, where ticket resale platform will be available during the months of March and April, where fans can sell and buy tickets from other fans. Tickets are allocated by draw and lucky applicants whom are allocated tickets, will be notified sometime in May 2016 by UEFA.

There are 2 types of tickets you can apply for:
–    Follow your favourite team – 32% of tickets will be allocated to this group. In this category, applicant will select their favourite team and can follow the team from Group stage all the way to the Final.
Each country has its own criteria to accept an applicant as that national team’s fan. For instance, France National team only accepts applicants who are registered member of “club des Supporters members”. Also, they expect the applicant to have French Nationality to apply for “Follow France team” category of tickets.
–    Buy single tickets without following a particular team – 42% of tickets will be allocated to general public. For instance, one may only want to watch a Quarter Final match. Then they will apply in “Single match ticket category”.

How many tickets are available? What are my chances?
A total of around 2.5 million tickets will be sold for 51 matches.

The demand for these games is massive. To put it into perspective, back in June 2016, when tickets went on sale for a month: 1M Tickets became available, but over 11M ticket requests were made!

What is the Mascot of Euro Cup 2016?
The Mascot of Euro Cup 2016 is an animated figure called “Super Victor”. Here is biography of “Super Victor”: I’m just an ordinary kid, like so many others! I was born in a small town in France. My father used to be a good footballer and, since a very young age, I have always loved playing football with my friends. I am not as good as my father was, but I am always trying to improve my skills. For me the most important thing when playing football is to have fun and play fair!

Euro Cup Mascot

womenforfootball.com – As it was published on Soccer without Limits.

There will be another reason for Real Madrid fans to clench their teeth over their club’s dismal days: Real Madrid’s most prolific player, Cristian Ronaldo, will soon take the exit door of Stantiago Bernabeu and not look back.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Although the Portuguese star is at the end of his 6-years contract with Real Madrid, but there are other reasons why he would leave Madrid club. Madridistas, for too long relied on their all-time top goal scorer and Award-winning Striker:  Cristiano Ronaldo became the only player in football’s history to score 50 or more goals in 5 consecutive occasions, all while playing for Real Madrid.  So why then would any world’s well-known player shelve his trophies for a new adventure? We will discover why Ronaldo will soon take that path:

1.  Ronaldo’s Age & Goal drought:  While everyone is talking about sensational Lionel Messi, very few have noticed Ronaldo’s goal drought this season. It is not quite a goal drought- Rooney style- but never before at Real Madrid, Ronaldo’s goal tally were closely matched by his teammates. This season so far, Ronaldo has managed to score 10 goals in 14 appearances. Benzema, closely follows Ronaldo with superior efficiency of 8 goals in 9 games.  In comparison, last season by this time, Ronaldo had scored 17 goals in 14 games. Evidently, Ronaldo is currently far from his prime years. After all, Cristiano Ronaldo has hit the 30-years mark and that is a make or break age for football players. At this age and at the end of this season, whatever club he chooses will be his last club before he hangs up his football shoes.

2. Poor relationship with Benitez: Ronaldo’s character clash with Benitez may not be as dramatic as his past relationship with Mourinho, but there are reports indicating that Real Madrid’s disappointing games, Benitez’s no plan B in critical games, specially at recent humiliating 4-0 loss to Barcelona is drawing thin for Ronaldo. At the end of last season, prior to club director’s decision to replace the former manager, Carlo Ancelotti with Benitez, Ronaldo had strongly backed Ancelotti to remain at the club. But that came to deaf ears by club hierarchy. Despite being amongst the senior ranks of Real squad, Ronaldo is not treated as a senior figure of the squad.

3. Gareth Bale & Benitez’s support: Although Bale could never match the hype over his value at Real Madrid, under Benitez he no longer plays wide as right wing and instead he is being capitalized as the central man; A dream come true for Gareth Bale. That means, Benitez is planning to build Real Madrid team around Gareth Bale. With Ronaldo’s big ego in check, the Portuguese star sees his seniority and critical role under threat.

4. Ronaldo’s agent’s close relationship with Paris Saint German President: Cristiano Ronaldo’s famed agent, Jorge Mendes, is known for his close ties with Paris Saint German President, Nasser El-Khelaifi. Jorge Mendes was the one who worked closely with El-Khelaifi to bring Di-Maria from Manchester United to PSG. The very club that is strongly linked to Ronaldo’s future destination. In reports by Spanish press, Mendes was seen with El-Khelaifi in a posh restaurant last month; Most probably over Ronaldo’s future.

5. Ibrahimovic leaving Paris Saint Germain: If there is one player who matches Ronaldo’s ego, is Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  If PSG is really the next destination for Ronaldo, the two of them would not make the friendliest bond upfront. However, Ronaldo does not need to worry as Zlatan is likely on his way out of PSG. The 34 years old Swedish striker, in recent interview with Yahoo Sport, indicated that “I would like to play in US, absolutely.”

Ibrahimovic leaving for MLS means the vacant forward position needs an immediate replacement at the end of the season, and unsatisfied Ronaldo will be the only big calibre player capable of filling Zlatan’s shoes.
When and if Ibrahimovic leaves PSG at the end of this season, amongst all the incoming calls from famed player agents, PSG President will surely answer his friend, Mendes’s call first.

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