Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Yugoslavia's National Team - If they never broke apart

Fig 1. Yugoslavia's old National Flag
Yugoslavia, the country in the heart of Europe with a large de facto area highlighted by numerous political conflicts within the country. The country also produced some fine talents in football and qualified for Euro 1992 which was held in Sweden but later was forced to pull out of the competition due to political issues in the country that couldn't be resolved easily which eventually led to be sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 757 thus leading to being banned from appearing (not going to detail on the history here, just stating the outter line for more info on their break up click here). Their replacements Denmark won Euro instead.

Now Yugoslavia is now long-gone and their former countries had considerable success in terms of Footballing sense. Yugoslavia broke to 6 different countries. Those countries are Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Macedonia.

Croatia has reached 3rd place in the 1998 World Cup, while Slovenia has qualified for 2002 & 2010 World Cups. Serbia(& Montenegro) reached the last 2 tournaments in 2006 & 2010 with ease but underachieved in the final stages. Bosnia-Herz has gona closer and closer to achieve something big and their national players have gone better and better. The least successful of them are Macedonia, and their not half bad themselves actually.

The writer wrote this article here to imagine "Who would make it into a 23-man Yugoslavia squad??" since with the wealth of talent they have, few faces might miss out on the chance.

Fig 2. Samir Handanovic
If you are going to a World Cup or a EURO tournament, there should only be 23 players in a team with 3 Goalies. Samir Handanovic of Slovenia gets my vote alongside Serbia's Vladimir Stojkovic with Bosnian youngster Asmir Begovic completing the Goal line.

Fig 3. Nemanja Vidic
Serbia has some of the best defenders across the European elite leagues so their first choice defense line will definitely make it into my squad in the form of Nemanja Vidic, Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandr Lukovic, and Aleksandr Kolarov. Croatia's Vedran Corluka & Darijo Srna will add depth in the Yugoslavia squad on the flanks and in the middle along with Branko Ilic of Slovenia who had a great World Cup a couple of months ago.

Fig 4. Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar
Here, all of the countries had strong competition - so strong I decided to pick only 7 defenders to compensate with 8 midfielders. Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar of Croatia are definite picks for my Yugoslavia team. Slovenia captain Robert Koren will be great in the middle of the park alongside Serbia's captain Dejan Stankovic. Competition on the wings would be completed with two Serbs in newly-signed Juventus player Milos Krasic and newly-signed Liverpool player Milan Jovanovic. Montenegro's Simon Vukcevic would make my team for his ability in dead-ball situations.

Fig 5. Edin Dzeko
Even I'm not going to be pleased with my striker choices because of all the possibilities available. For sure Bosnia's biggest star Edin Dzeko comes into my team alongside Macedonia's biggest star Goran Pandev. Mirko Vucinic is another Montenegro's representative in this star-studded squad. Croatia's striker duo Eduardo and Ivica Olic completes my Yugoslavia 23-man squad.

Final Squad:
Samir Handanovic, Vladimir Stojkovic, Asmir Begovic (GK); Nemanja Vidic, Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandr Kolarov, Aleksandr Lukovic, Vedran Corluka, Darijo Srna, Branko Ilic (DF); Luka Modric, Niko Kranjcar, Robert Koren, Dejan Stankovic, Milos Krasic, Milan Jovanovic, Simon Vukcevic (MF); Edin Dzeko, Mirko Vucinic, Goran Pandev, Eduardo, Ivica Olic (FW).

My Starting Yugoslavia Lineup (4-4-2):

Virtual 30-man squad players (Honorable Mentions):
Stipe Pletikosa (Goalkeeper) - Croatia
Stevan Jovetic (Striker) - Montenegro
Zvjezdan Misimovic (Midfielder) - Bosnia & Herzegovina
Nikola Zigic (Striker) - Serbia
Ivan Fatic (Defender) - Montenegro
Zdravko Kuzmanovic (Midfielder) - Serbia
Vedad Ibisevic (Striker) - Bosnia & Herzegovina

Imagine if this team had qualified for any competition, who would bet against them? This team is sick! even no place for Kuzmanovic or Jovetic somehow in the team.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Real Madrid vs Manchester CIty: Battle of the transfer quality & quantity.

This transfer season as you may seen has been dominated by 2 teams; The original faces in Real Madrid and new contenders Manchester City. Each team has signed 6 and 7 players respectively as of the time this article has been written (and rumors suggest that Real Madrid wants to sign 1 last player in this transfer window). Both clubs have been splashing the cash and have caused mixed opinions on their signings. Let us take a look on their signings these season shall we:

Real Madrid:
Angel Di Maria (ARG) from Benfica, €25 M.
Pedro Leon (ESP) from Getafe, €10 M
Sergio Canales (ESP) from Racing Santander, €4.5 M
Sami Khedira (GER) from VfB Stuttgart, €14 M
Ricardo Carvalho (POR) from Chelsea, €8 M
Mesut Ozil (GER) from Werder Bremen, €15 M

Total Spending: €76.5 Million.

Manchester City:
David Gonzalez (COL) free transfer
Jerome Boateng (GER) from HSV, €10.4 M
David Silva (ESP) from Valencia, €25 M
Yaya Toure (CIV) from Barcelona, €24 M
Aleksandar Kolarov (SRB) from Lazio, €16 M
Mario Balotelli (ITA) from Internazionale, €24 M
James Milner (ENG) from Aston Villa, €26 M + Stephen Ireland (IRE)

Total: €125 M + 1 player.

Quality indeed these players being brought in of course, but what bothers me is the quantity of the money being spent AND the amount of players being brought in. Seriously, it FREAKS me that these teams just couldn't work and deal with what they have. The difference in both these teams are that Real Madrid looks more likely to win anything while Man City looks to be heading into a mediocre title challenge.

Real Madrid has lost their legends in Raul Gonzalez and Guti Hernandez because they both just wanted a new challenge and they leave being highly regarded for their services in the past and Coach Jose Mourinho just had to by players to cover these departures. Mesut Ozil and Sergio Canales are there to replace Guti while Mourinho is still in the market to by a striker.

While Man City... they're just buying players for fun with good quality players have to be kicked out because of these signings. Players such as Craig Bellamy and Fans 2008 player of the year Stephen Ireland has left while rumors suggest Robinho, Roque Santa Cruz, Jo, and Emmanuel Adebayor are looking to leave. Critics have been doing their job mostly on the signing of James Milner because he has been exchanged with arguably a better player in Stephen Ireland, and the capture of talented young striker (but temperamental) Mario Balotelli.

Both these teams though share a single similarity, which is having rivals who are a bit stronger. Real Madrid's biggest rival Barcelona only spent big bucks on David Villa (Valencia) and Adriano Correia (Sevilla) compared to Real's 6 signings currently. While City's rivals, Chelsea and neighbors Manchester United had spent little amount of money on only few players, with Chelsea signing 2 players and United signing 3. Even with the small amount of transfers among their rivals, Barcelona are still favorites to win the La Liga while Chelsea and Manchester United looks more stronger in many ways compared to Manchester City.

Money can't buy you love, but we will see at the end of the season whether it could buy a good football team.