Loughborough College Sport FE Magazine (May - Aug 2012)
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Loughborough College Sport FE Magazine (May - Aug 2012)
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Euro 2012 Review: Spain make history

Euro 2012 Review: Spain make history | Loughborough College Sport FE Magazine (May - Aug 2012) | Scoop.it

By James Collington

BTEC Extended Dipolma in Sport Level 3

Helsinki

 

The end to another fantastic footballing tournament, and, hopefully, providing at least a bench mark for Olympic football to follow and better. Unfortunately, and correctly predicted, there were no reincarnations of the Denmark of ’92 or Greece of ’04 underdogs winning the tournament, but, that’s not to say there wasn’t other surprises along the way, most notably, in my eyes, the Italians beating Germany and getting to the final.

 

So why the Italians as the surprise? Well they hardly lit up the World Cup in 2010, finishing a dismal bottom in a group containing Paraguay, Slovenia, & New Zealand, who where only taking part in their second World Cup, while also registering their first World Cup points and having a number of semi-pro’s registered in their listed 23-man squad. This ultimately spelled the end of Marcelo Lippi’s second reign at the Italian national teams’ helm. And so began the new era under a more attacking style of play with Cesare Prandelli, and it was out with, most, of the old and in with the new. And it seemed to work, they flowed more freely with the rejuvenated Pirlo, and the triple threat up front of either Balotelli, Cassano or Di Natale, dependant on who played. They surpassed most expectations, and were majorly unlucky in the final being beaten 4-0, with the score line not an accurate representation of the match.

 

The Group (B) of Death threw up some real surprises, with the promising Dutch crashing out bottom of the group with 0 points, only Ireland (on goal difference) fared worse, and ultimately costing Van Marwijk his job. The Danes surprised everyone by beating the Dutch, and putting up real fights against Portugal and the domineering Germans, just missing out on progression to the last eight. Can they develop into a top ten side?

 

And finally, how surprisingly the Germans progressed through the group achieving 9 out of 9 points, the only team in the tournament to do so. Surely then, after easily negotiating the hardest group in the tournament, they should have been destined for the trophy, only to be beaten by Italian and Pirlo brilliance. Surely a real contender for Rio 2014, especially with the likes of Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle, who are still under 23, means they have time to mature and gain valuable experience, while also developing newer talent to replace some of the older guard, i.e. the dependable Miroslav Klose.

 

And the final surprise of the tournament, Spain becoming the only nation to ever win three consecutive major international titles. Against all odds, and with an evidently fatigued squad, they even developed a system to play with no strikers, which at first was a surprise and sounded stupid to the rest of the footballing world but looking at it closely it is actually an ingenious idea, all of the six midfielders can create play, get into space and score goals. So it makes sense. And even Torres bagged a few goals, oh and the Golden boot, not a bad end for his worst professional season.

 

A great tournament, marred by fears of racism, violence and poor refereeing from the start, but ended in a true spectacle of football. Bring on the Olympics.

 

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Euro 2012: Can this be the year for another european underdog?

Euro 2012: Can this be the year for another european underdog? | Loughborough College Sport FE Magazine (May - Aug 2012) | Scoop.it

By James Collington (Helsinki)

BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport Level 3

 

Everybody loves an underdog. David v Goliath, David Haye v Nikolay Valuev, Chelsea v Barça, just to name a few. So could it happen in Euro 2012, could there be a repeat of Greece in 2004? Could there be a fairy-tale final of a Poland v Ukraine final… wonder what the bookies will give you for that prediction.

 

Now obviously you’ve got your main favourites of Spain, Netherlands, Italy, and dare I say England. But who are the favourites of the underdogs, Poland, Greece, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Ukraine, and Sweden? Who out them five looks the strongest and most potent threat? Let’s take a look at Sweden and Greece. Sweden because of one man, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the maverick genius who can turn a poor game into a good game from the flick of a heel, or a good game into a bad game with… well the flick of hand, watch Ibrahimovic v Aronica if you do not follow. And Greece, well they’ve got experience of doing so, they beat Portugal in the Euro 2004 final, on Portugal’s turf, when they had the likes of a young Cristiano Ronaldo, Helder Postiga who’d won the European Cup with Porto, Ricardo Carvalho, Ricardo the goalkeeper, and of course the sublime Luis Figo. So is it a really that an un-realistic prospect?

 

But is hosting the tournament an advantage in itself, after all Portugal did get to Euro 2004 final on their own turf. If so then it should help the poor Polish and the un-eventful Ukrainians. So out the two squads you’d expect Ukraine to go the furthest with the ageing stars of Shevchenko, Andriy Voronin, and Anatoily Tymoshchuk of Bayern Munich, all of whom are over 30. But in terms of the groups Poland have the easier group with no real threat, with their group containing Russia, Czech Republic, and Greece.

 

I feel for Ireland and Denmark who have both been thrown hard groups, with Ireland in the group of Spain, Italy and Croatia, while Denmark have been placed in ‘the Group of Death’ with Netherlands, Portugal and Germany. Comparing the groups Ireland have the easier run in, and can expect possibly a 3rd place finish in their group, the Irish have got a good mix of experience and youth under the ageing Trappatoni, with the household names of Given, Keane, Dunne, and Duff, mixed with the talented prospects of Sunderland wonder kid James McClean, West Brom’s Shane Long and Everton’s Seamus Coleman. Whereas Denmark have standout names of Sorensen, Agger, Kjær, Christian Poulsen, the self-proclaimed best striker in the world Nicklas Bendtner, and teenage sensation Christian Eriksen. Now this squad should put them in good stead, but it’s still going to be tough against the Dutch, Portuguese and Germans. And if either of these were able to get 2nd place, maybe even 1st place in their groups then I’d tip them to the ones to cause an upset. These two are the teams be wary of and watch, especially the Danes and Christian Eriksen.

 

So, from looking at this I’m going to go with Denmark to cause the most upset, should they get out of their group, if they or Ireland don’t, well then I can’t really see much of an upset caused. Maybe Poland may make it to the last eight, but certainly no further.

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The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven | Loughborough College Sport FE Magazine (May - Aug 2012) | Scoop.it

By James Collington

BTEC Extended Dipolma in Sport Level 3

Helsinki

 

After the Canadain Grand Prix, F1 has managed to produce a record seventh different winner from the first seven races. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Pastor Maldonado, Mark Webber, and Lewis Hamilton in case you’ve forgotten. Now Hamilton tops the Drivers’ standing with 88 points, and the top four drivers separated by only 9 points.

Alonso, before the Monaco Grand Prix, has been quoted by Sky Sports F1 website during an interview with CNN claiming that F1 ‘can lose credibility’ because of the amount of different race winners. He claims its making the sport appear more ‘like a lottery’ rather than it demonstrating a team/drivers skill and tactics by dominance. Surely this is a statement of a poor loser? He’s only 2 points behind Hamilton with 13 more races to compete in. Although he did say earlier in the interview that ‘It's a fantastic season, it's so unpredictable. I think people stand in front of the TV with some surprises every race. It's good for the audience’ which is true.

It’s been a fantastic season so far, and it’s made my decisions on the Williams F1 iPredictor app on my iPod harder to choose.

 

Hopefully the Lotus’ of Grosjean and Raikkonen will soon gain their maiden victory and Raikkonen’s return victory, respectively. They really have been the surprise package of the season, and should they improve on their performances race on race, season on season, then they’ll soon be giving the usual heavyweights of the sport a run for their money.

On about heavyweights, there have been rumours in the past few weeks that Ferrari, come the end of the season, will replace Felipe Massa with Paul di Resta. Dropping Massa comes as no surprise due to his lack lustre performances this season, and the previous season too; he’s never quite looked as good since that incident where he was hit on the head with an object from Barrichello’s car last season. And to be honest di Resta appears a perfect fit for Ferrari, he races so well with the Force India and he’s still a young driver, so they will be getting consistency, young blood, and a great prospect for the future. Ok maybe not Schumacher level but certainly a title challenger.

 

But in terms of the near future let’s hope the rest of the season delivers the exciting, entertaining, and enthralling races we’ve had so far. And with Silverstone, Spa, Monza, Singapore’s night race, Abu Dhabi, the new American track (Circuit of America), and the Brazilian Grand Prix still to feature, it’s certainly shaping up to be that way.

 

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F1’s Fantastic Four.... The story so far...

F1’s Fantastic Four.... The story so far... | Loughborough College Sport FE Magazine (May - Aug 2012) | Scoop.it

By James Collington

BTEC Exteneded Diploma in Sport Level 3

 

Four races into the F1 season and already it’s looking like a thriller of season. With four different winners from the four races, and with Vettel finally getting his act together by claiming pole position in Qualifying and then 1st place in Bahrain, it looks like the heat is on for Spain.

 

Admittedly we are only four races in but this season the title really is wide open. Compare it this time in 2011, where Vettel was storming away with the title on 93 points with Hamilton, his closest rival, on only 59 points, 34 points behind, this  year Vettel, again, is leading the championship on 53 points, with Hamilton, again, behind him in second place is on 49 points, so it’s so much closer than last year, with the top five of Vettel (53 pts), Hamilton(49 pts), Webber (48 pts), Button (43 pts), and Alonso
(43 pts) separated by only 10 points. To put that into perspective, Alonso, fifth in the drivers’ championship, could leap frog Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, and Button in his home race in Spain and have a 15 point cushion from Vettel, if he wins and the latter fail to score any points, the same could happen to Button too, who is also on 43 points, if you swap Alonso for Button in the latter group.

 

But the excitement isn’t always with the usual front runners, just look at how well Lotus are doing in their maiden season in F1, managing to get into the top 6 three times out of the four races, and are currently placed third in the drivers constructors championship. This is truly remarkable given all the experience that the other teams have over them, and in the case of Red Bull, McLaren, and Ferrari, the financial advantage that they have to back their theories and to develop new technology that gives them that edge in the races.

 

Could it be an indication of the future? Or are they a dark horse in the constructors’ championship? Even the other teams, such as your Force India, the receding Williams’, Sauber, and Toro Rosso’s who are usually there to make up the midfield pack are making strides into the top 6 and 10’s both in race and qualifying, are they finally catching up with the usual ‘Big Three’? Or is consistency the key to the title? If so then Webber could be your man, 4th in all 4 races and sitting 3rd in the drivers’ championship, mathematically speaking it’s a realistic possibility. Especially as his closest rivals continue to be as up and down as Eddie Jordan’s shirt choices then consistency might well win him the title... even if he doesn’t win a race.

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