Posts Tagged ‘Cesc Fabregas’

UEFA Soccer Team of the Year 2008

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

After 3.3 million votes cast by 256,000 online users (slightly less than last year), the Team of the Year 2008 was revealed earlier this week.

As can usually be expected with these things, this starting eleven will please many and disappoint others (especially those whose favorite player was not selected) but this being said, there’s quality oozing all over in this team. I personally prefer the journalist choice of L’Équipe’s Best 11 Soccer Players of 2008, but “the people have spoken” as they say…

Nevertheless, feel free to give your 2 cents (and fire away your insults) in the comments section.


Nike: “Take It To The Next Level” – Director’s Cut

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Hey remember Nike’s “Take It To The Next Level” Commercial? That cool first-person ad featuring Wenger, Gallas, Fabregas, C-Ron, Sneijder and van Nistelrooy (among others)? You know, the one directed by Guy Ritchie, that cool dude behind movies such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch ? (notice I didn’t mention Swept Away… oops, never mind)

Well, turns out that Mr. Ritchie’s just released a “Director’s Cut” version (whatever helps getting his mind off Madonna and her phony British accent, right?), which features one extra minute compared to the official TV version. “More players, more action, more wish-I was-that-guy. Recut, remixed and rewired by Guy Ritchie“, in other words a full 3 minutes of Nike football goodness. Yay!

Ok I’m starting to sound like a marketing whore, so without further ado here’s the video. As usual, the high res version is up at

Euro 2008 – 20 Pictures of the Spanish Triumph

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

By now, you’ve probably figured (i.e. me) likes pictures. Needless to say, I am a strong believer that “a powerful image can speak louder than a thousand words“.

So presenting to you, a selection of 20 images giving tribute to Spain’s Euro 2008 triumph in Sunday’s final.

Enjoy. And once again, ¡Viva España!

(Left picture) Spain's Raul Albiol and Carlos Marchena (R) celebrate after their Euro 2008 final soccer match victory over Germany at Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna, June 29, 2008. (REUTERS) (Center picture) Spain's Iker Casillas, right, celebrates with teammates Pepe Reina, left, and Andres Palop their side's 1-0 win at the end of the Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain in the Ernst-Happel stadium in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, June 29, 2008, the last day of the European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo by Jon Super) (Right picture) Spain's David Villa and Pepe Reina (L) kiss the trophy after their Euro 2008 final soccer match victory over Germany at Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna, June 29, 2008. (REUTERS)


Euro 2008 – Spain 0-0 Italy, Azzurri Out on Penalty-Kicks… Again

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Spain 0-0 Italy, and then off to penalty kicks. A lottery that historically never agreed too much with the Azzurri, although it seemed as if the World Cup 2006 final vs. France had finally broken that taboo. I guess not. Italy fans just have to hope the curse isn’t back.

Much like anticipated in the days preceding the match, this was hard-fought and tightly-contested battle. The Spanish working their way with their short passing tactics, attempting to penetrate a well-organized (yes, you have read correctly!) Italian defense lead by Christian Panucci and Giorgio Chiellini, while on the other end the creativity of Antonio Cassano and lay-up work of Luca Toni tried to hit Spain on counter-attacks. Carlos Marchena and Carles Puyol were however keeping close guard as well and at the end of the day, there weren’t many real chances to make the highlights reel. Mauro Camoranesi had a good rotating strike inside the box (saved by Casillas) and there was a long-range blast by Marcos Senna (parried, then fumbled by Buffon onto the post). Other than that, a lot of ball possession and many shots wide for Spain.

Then came penalty kicks, and Iker Casillas stepped up to the plate by saving Daniele De Rossi’s and Antonio Di Natale’s efforts. Italy are going home.

(From Gazzetta): The adventure is over. Spain beat Italy 4-2 in at penalties and sent them packing, all the while erasing the magic of Berlin on a hot Vienna night. After a goalless 120 minutes, Buffon managed to stop Guiza‘s effort but De Rossi and Di Natale both missed their shots (great saves by Casillas) so it is time to turn the page. The world champions are out of Euro 2008.

Tactically, Italy manager Roberto Donadoni started with the same system he used in the match vs. France (4-3-1-2), albeit with some forced changes in midfield. The absence of Pirlo and Gattuso (the former especially) wasn’t exactly a gift from the heavens, so the Don had the cumbersome task to find a new creative outlet for the Azzurri. In this case, the mission fell on Roma’s Alberto Aquilani, with Daniele De Rossi and Massimo Ambrosini in supoprt. At the same time, Donadoni kept his faith in attacking midfielder Simone Perrotta, positioned behind strikers Toni and Cassano. On the other end, Luis Aragonés surprisingly switched to a 4-4-2 formation, with however the usual 4-player midfield (Andrés Iniesta on the right and Marcos Senna just behind the attacking line).

The Azzurri started the match in attacking mode, with good aggression & pressing ability, but Spain immediately put on the brake. Contrary to their habits, La Furia Roja were playing wide and at low speed, but seemingly in better control of the game. In minute 9 David Silva moved to the center and armed a good shot, but the deflection was blocked by Buffon without major effort. Nothing special, but proof that Spain was controlling play. Meanwhile, Sampdoria’s Antonio Cassano was Italy’s most inspired player, but with lack of support and constant double marking by the Spanish defense, Talentino was having a tough time creating anything substantial.

Minute 18, Fernando Torres time: entering the box from the left and receiving the ball from Iniesta, the Liverpool striker’s effort was too high. Something that should have sent a signal to Italy, because on that side the Spanish were roaming free: bogged down by responsibility, Alberto Aquilani was having a tough time containing the Spanish midfielders and thus in turn, was fairly absent from the Azzurri’s counter-attack plays. Then, on minute 19 it was finally Italy’s turn: a good Ambrosini cross from the left found Simone Perrotta in the box but his diagonal header lacked power, no problem for Casillas. Back to the other end, Spain obtained a good free-kick but David Villa’s 25th minute effort found Gigi Buffon ready to catch the ball on the ground.

Italy seemed to come out of their cage sporadically, but without a real playmaker (Simone Perrotta is no Francesco Totti) the passing (and in particular, the penetration) left a lot to be desired. Spain was doing a lot better and in the 32nd minute Silva challenged Buffon once again, but it was Cassano who finally produced some his magic, executing a perfect cross for Luca Toni inside the box. The Bayern giant however could not connect with the ball, resulting in a missed opportunity for Italy.

In the second half, David Silva continued to put his mark on the game (the first half had ended with one of his shots just narrowly wide of Buffon’s post), but fortunately for Italy there was a certain Giorgio Chiellini playing center-back. The young Juve players was doing overtime, litterally playing Cannavaro circa-2006 and blocking down every single dribbling attempt by the Spaniards inside the Azzurri box. Italy however, were still struggling in midfield where De Rossi and Ambrosini were being forced to work extra hard, thus reducing the number of playable balls down the wings for Zambrotta and Grosso.

In minute 58, time for Mauro Camoranesi to make his appearance (in for Perrotta), and not a minute too soon (the team desperately needing some extra creativity). Just 3 minutes after his entrance, the Italo-Argentine exploited a Toni lay-up and came very close to scoring, but some outstanding goalkeeping by Iker Casillas saved Spain’s clean sheet. Aragonés made some substitutions of his own (Xavi & Iniesta replaced by Fabregas & Cazorla) thus strengthening his ball-possession midfield even more.

In minute 29, Antonio Di Natale came on for Cassano but Spain were in command again. In minute 35 a powerful free-kick by Marco Senna was punched clear by Buffon, and just a minute later another shot by the Spanish midfielder was fumbled onto the post by the Italian goalkeeper. A close shave for Italy. The Azzurri tried to hit back with Luca Toni, but the ex-Fiorentina striker was still struggling to enter the match completely (and actually ended up robbing Fabio Grosso of a big scoring opportunity, on a Di Natale cross). Before the full-time (90 minutes) whistle, Daniel Guiza came on for Torres and eventually managed to find the net, but the play had been stopped for handball. Then, Zambrotta saved Italy by blocking Villa inside the box in minute 93.

Extra time was immediately exciting: in the third minute Villa flashed a shot wide and two minutes later, Italy came close to scoring on two occasions. First Marchena intercepted a great Grosso pass to Toni, then a powerful header below the bar by Di Natale was tipped over by Casillas. Italy were kicking themselves because they were having the best chances, even though both teams were now purely relying on instinct and passion. Alessandro Del Piero came on for Aquilani in minute 108 (the Don probably anticipating penalty kicks), while the Spanish continued to try: Buffon saved a Villa shot and in the final minute Cazorla dragged a mid-range effort wide. Time for penalties and this time, Spain did not fail.


Real Federación Española de Fútbol SPAIN-ITALY
0-0 (4-2 p.s.o.)
[Match Highlights]
 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
Villa (S) goal, Grosso (I) goal, Cazorla (S) goal, De Rossi (I) saved, Senna (S) goal, Camoranesi (I) goal, Guiza (S) saved, Di Natale (I) Saved, Fabregas (S) goal.
SPAIN (4-4-2): Casillas – Sergio Ramos, Puyol, Marchena, Capdevila – Iniesta (59’ Cazorla), Senna, Xavi (59’ Fàbregas), Silva – Villa, F.Torres (85’ Guiza). (bench: Reina, Palop, Albiol, Navarro, Arbeloa, Juanito, Xabi Alonso, De la Red, Sergio Garcia). Coach: Aragones.
ITALY (4-3-1-2): Buffon – Zambrotta, Panucci, Chiellini, Grosso – Aquilani (108’ Del Piero), De Rossi, Ambrosini – Perrotta (58’ Camoranesi) – Toni, Cassano (74’ Di Natale). (bench: Amelia, De Sanctis, Gamberini, Materazzi, Borriello, Quagliarella). Coach: Donadoni.


Spain 2-4 Italy aet – MyVideo

Nike – “Take It To The Next Level” Commercial

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Ahhh… the time has come! The moment all of us footy enthusiasts have been waiting for: the new Nike soccer commercial. When it comes to the beautiful game, Nike’s marketing department has never failed to impress us; this time they have really pushed the boundaries of creativity, adapting a unique first-person view.

From their “How badly do you want to be a fooballer” campaign and featuring international superstars such as Arsene Wenger, William Gallas, Cesc Fabregas, Marco Materazzi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ruud van Nistelrooy (among others), their newest TV commercial is titled “Take It To The Next Level” and it goes a little something like this:

You open your eyes. You see the referee has just finished booking the defender that brought you down. One of your teammates helps you up, and asks if you’re alright. “Can you take it?” he says. “Yeah yeah don’t worry about it” you reply, and carefully place the ball on the free kick spot.

Not even waiting for the referee to blow his whistle, you slam an inswinging shot past the ball straight into the net. GOAAAAAL!! Your teammates jump all over you, you’ve just won the game for your team!

As you exit the field, you spot Arsène Wenger eyeing you from the sidelines. Looks like he’s scouting for some new talent… could you be the next promising youngster heading to Emirates Stadium?

As you enter the door of the training ground, you can’t contain your excitement at receiving your fully personalized Arsenal jersey. The assistant coach points to your spot in the changing room, between shirts nº32 (Theo Walcott) and nº2 (Abou Diaby).

Time for your first match, Arsène is bringing you on against Manchester United!! William Gallas high fives you as he leaves the pitch; a slap on the cheek from the Gunners captain is all the encouragement you need!

It doesn’t take you very long to get right into the heart of the action! Wayne Rooney chests the ball and volleys it towards Cristiano Ronaldo. You somehow try to stop him but you just get pushed to the ground. Boy that’s gonna leave a mark! Before you can even get back up, you see the Portuguese player making a fool of your keeper and scoring with a slamming volley. After his goal, Ronaldo doesn’t miss taunting you for your incompetence, that was embarassing!

Enraged at your first match performance, you’re boiling with energy at your next training session. Push-ups, sit-ups, jumping, running up the stairs, you’re really pumped and ready for action.

After a long spell on the bench, Wenger has decided it’s time to give you a second chance: you’re a starter in Arsenal’s next league game. No time to waste, kick-off and let’s go!!

You pass the ball to Cesc Fàbregas, he gets by a defender then slides the ball to the right wing. With the cross is coming in towards you, you cannot miss it this time! Waiting for the ball to drop, you arm a powerful volley past the opposing keeper!! GOAAAAL!! Fàbregas kisses you and screams like a little girl with excitement.

From the kisses of Fàbregas to that of your girlfriend. You’re transported into a limousine, ready to attend some big fundraising event. It’s a drag, but you know it’s for a good cause and besides, you love the media attention.

As you make your way on the red carpet hundreds of screaming fans ask for your autograph. One crazy chick even wants you to… autograph her breasts? Don’t mind if I do! You’re glad to oblige, under the perplexed eyes of your girlfriend…

Champions’ League day! Arsenal are playing Inter Milan. You’re facing Marco Materazzi, challenging an aerial ball. The Italian defender doesn’t play subtle however, and shoves you aside before heading the ball to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

You can only watch helplessly as the Swede strikes a powerful shot into the top corner, leaving your keeper to pick the ball up in the back of net. Zlatan is laughing at you…

Darn, that Materazzi challenge really left some bruises. As you take your shower after the match, you discover you’ve lost a tooth!

Next week, you’re playing Barcelona. The traditional pre-match handshakes see the Blaugrana players pass by before you…Rafael Márquez, Bojan Krkic, Ronaldinho… then game on!

Receiving a pass, you chest it down and flick it over a defender, before attempting to send it down the right wing… but Marquez intercepts it!! He passes to Ronaldinho, and the pesky Brazilian makes your teammates look like fools… two sombreros in quick succession? Cesc is not happy!

Back to more training, even harder this time!! More running up the stairs… but also team spirit building: you pull down the pants of one of your teammates during practice. Everyone bursts out laughing as the joke recipient chases you angrily. It’s all in good fun though.

Then more running… so much in fact that you end up puking your lunch when you’re done. It was worth the effort though, the Dutch national team manager has monitored your progress and called you up for your first international match vs. Portugal!!

Your heart is pacing at 200 beats per minute as you enter the stadium, right behind Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Nani. Boy oh boy are you excited! Some pre-match stretching, Ruud van Nistelrooy does a few juggles & flicks, then hands the ball to the referee. The match can begin!!!

Kick off, your team is taking control. Ruud attempts a long-range drive but it’s parried by the keeper. He apologizes for messing up your good pass. Oh look it’s Ronaldo again, only this time you’re not letting him school you.

Your team gets the ball back, Wesley Sneijder‘s in control. One nutmeg to clear a defender, then Wesley passes the ball to you and the road to the goal is clear! You run at full pace towards the net, but a Portugal defender takes your legs away right on the edge of the box. Your mind goes black…

You open your eyes. You see the referee has just finished booking the defender that brought you down. Ruud helps you up. Wesley brings you the ball and asks if you’re taking it. You nod, carefully place the ball on the free kick spot, and start your run…
Alright I’ll quit teasing you… :) here’s the video (you can find the high res version at