Champions League Statistics

The UEFA Champions League group stages start tonight, and with it comes 9 months of matches before we reach the Final in Berlin on June 6th.

It’s very difficult to predict who will get their hands on the trophy, no team has successfully defended the title since the Champions League started in 1992.  The last two finals have seen unlikely Finalists in Borussia Dortmund and Athletico Madrid, and Chelsea’s victory in 2012 defied the odds given their poor domestic showing that year.

Champions League Trophy

Real Madrid winning the UEFA Champions League in 2014

Here’s a few stats from the Champions League since 1992:

Average Points Per Game

  1. Barcelona – 1.938
  2. Real Madrid – 1.935
  3. Manchester Utd – 1.865
  4. Bayern Munich – 1.813
  5. Paris Saint-Germain – 1.796

Average Net Goal Difference Per Game

  1. Real Madrid – 0.965
  2. Barcelona – 0.964
  3. Manchester Utd – 0.78
  4. Chelsea – 0.735
  5. Bayern Munich – 0.695

Hardest to Beat – Games Lost Percetage

  1. Barcelona – 18.13%
  2. Manchester Utd – 20.50%
  3. Chelsea – 21.97%
  4. Real Madrid – 22.50%
  5. Liverpool – 23.17%

Top Goalscorers (Playing in the 2014-15 Competition)

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 68 goals
  2. Lionel Messi – 67 goals
  3. Didier Drogba & Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 42 goals
  4. Karim Benzema – 36 goals
  5. Steven Gerrard – 28 goals

Most Appearances (Playing in the 2014-15 Competition)

  1. Xavi – 147 matches
  2. Iker Casillas – 142 matches
  3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Cristiano Ronaldo – 107 matches
  4. Ashley Cole & Andrea Pirlo – 105 matches
  5. Petr Cech – 103 matches

Trophy-Less Top 5

Generally the best players in the world end up at the best teams, and therefore increase their chances of silverware. However, despite their talent and endeavour, some players just never seem to be able to get their hands on a trophy or winners medal. Here we put together a top 5of quality players who are trophy-less.

Jermaine Defoe

 

 

  1. Robert Lee

– Few players were as popular as Robert Lee was during his time at Newcastle. One of the most respected names in football during the 1990’s, Lee was a great all-round attacker for Newcastle, leading to international recognition, but even that couldn’t help the Geordie’s in a quest for silverware.

 

  1. Malcolm MacDonald

– Another of our top 5 comes from Newcastle, and in the form of the big favourite Malcolm MacDonald. He was an instant success at the north-east side and went on to score 5 goals in one game for England in 1975. He looked set to be on his way to the top, and surely would win trophies along the way, but after a big-money move to Arsenal, injury cruelly ended his hopes of any medals.

 

  1. Jermaine Defoe

-One of those great players who came through the ranks at West Ham, Jermaine Defoe developed into a fantastic finisher, terrorising defences all over England. However, his move to Portsmouth  in 2008 saw the England striker miss out on a trophy by just a few weeks, as Spurs beat Chelsea in the League Cup final in the following month.

 

  1. Giuseppe Signori

– Another prolific striker to add to the trophy-less list, but this time from Serie A. He was a star player for Sampdoria and Lazio amongst others but was somehow never able to win any major competitions.

 

1. Matt Le Tissier    

– Southampton’s second top goalscorer of all time spent his entire 16 year senior career at the South Coast club, a time span in which they never picked up a trophy, despite his fantastic eye for goal.

Are England on course for Euro 2016?

After a miserable Summer with an abject World Cup display, it’s difficult for even the biggest optimist to get excited about England’s chances of reaching Euro 2016, let alone getting their hands on the trophy.

The Summer was followed by a drab friendly against Norway, watched by the lowest crowd for an International in the new Wembley.  That crowd were treated to a fortuitous victory, some slapstick defending and some pretty toothless attacking.  Our record before that game was 1 win in 6 matches, and our slide down Fifa’s world rankings is much publicised and sees us lying 20th behind the footballing might of Greece, Costa Rica, Croatia, Mexico and even Bosnia & Herzegovina.

But is it all so bad?  Well probably not.  All stats are there to be twisted, and how bad does the current stat of 2 losses in 9 games sound? On Monday night England beat Switzerland 2-0 away, the top seed in the group and also ranked 9th in the FIFA rankings.  UEFA have also decided to expand the Euro 2016 tournament to include 24 teams meaning that the top 2 teams from each group qualify, and there are play-offs for the third place teams.  When we look at previous qualification groups the likelihood is that 16 points will see you into a play-off and 18 points should see you qualify.

Football Trophies

Danny Welbeck opens the scoring against the 9th best team in World Football!

England have 100% records against San Marino and Estonia and would be confident of maintaining both of those, so that would leave them needing 3 points from their home games against Lithuania, Slovenia and Switzerland.  All in all, following an excellent first result, qualification should be straightforward.  Whilst we’re tempted to say ‘Yeah, but this is England – anything can happen’ we should try and remember that they have a pretty reliable record in qualifying.

What happens if and when they get to France is another matter totally, and the chances of Wayne Rooney getting his hands on any silverware haven’t improved on the back of one win against Switzerland!

The Road to Euro 2016 begins

England kick off their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign tomorrow against Switzerland, in a bid to rid the critics following a poor World Cup in Brazil this summer. The three lions didn’t help matters with a lacklustre performance last Wednesday against Norway, in which they limped to a 1-0 victory. Roy Hodgson didn’t take kindly to the criticism from the press after the game, whilst Jack Wilshere has also stated that he feels the negativity surrounding the World Cup performances wasn’t justified – and from that I’m not quite sure if he was talking about the same competition as everybody else!

It’s fair to say that England fans have been waiting a long time for a convincing performance so Roy Hodgson and his side need to start the campaign well to get the supporters back on side. Here we take a look at a few players who could step into the team to help improve the trophy
chances for England in 2016:

Danny Welbeck

 

  1. Danny Welbeck

–          The form of Daniel Sturridge alongside the captaincy being given to Rooney has meant that Welbeck has been edged out of the side slightly of late. His transfer to Arsenal may help him shine further and this can only be a good thing for England.

 

  1. Ross Barkley

–          One of the few players to return from the World Cup with any kind of credit, the Everton youngster certainly gives fans some hope for the future. England have lacked that spontaneity in the past couple of years and this is something that Barkley has in abundance.

 

  1. Luke Shaw

–          Leighton Baines seems to have secured the left-back position for now but whilst he is great going forward, there are some questions over his defending at times. Luke Shaw’s move to Manchester United will only benefit him and he could be a great addition to the back line.

Lost Trophy Brings Recognition to Forgotten US Tennis Hero

I stumbled across an article by Kurt Streeter in the LA Times entitled ‘Great Read’.  I trusted the title so decided to give it a go.

It was a fascinating story whereby a lost Mens Tennis Trophy from 1938 was found in a house sale and purchased for $10.  The buyer then sold it for $65 on eBay, which my best guess would tell me is a fraction of it’s real worth.  But that’s not the story, and certainly not where it ends.  The buyer on eBay was an LA tennis enthusiast, who donated the trophy back to the original club.  The trophy from 1938 had never been engraved, so the club officials searched all available records to establish the winner.  Eventually they came up with the name Joe Hunt, and what followed was more research into his career.

It emerged that Joe Hunt was one of the greatest players that Ojai Valley Tennis Club had seen, a National Boys Champion, National Junior Champion and also a National College Doubles Champion in 1938.  But when war hit in 1940, Joe Hunt transferred to the Naval Academy in Annapolis.  In 1943 serving in the Pacific and Atlantic, he petitioned for short leave so that he could play in the US National Championships at Forest Hills, the equivalent of today’s US Open.

Tennis Trophy

Joe Hunt – US National Tennis Champion in 1943

Joe Hunt made it to the Final against the great Jack Kramer and eventually won the title in 4 sets. This left Joe Hunt ranked No.1 in the Nation and he accepted the plaudits before returning to the military where he was training to be a pilot.  Early in 1945 Hunt was killed when his Grumman Hellcat went into a tailspin at 10,000 feet and shattered as it hit the ocean.  Joe Hunt was only 25.

As the full story was uncovered in April,  the trophy was returned to Joe Hunt’s family, which created widespread media attention.  So, on Monday, during a ceremony at this years US Open, Joe Hunt was at last honoured by the US Tennis Association.

Read the full story here

Transfer Window Review

Transfer Deadline Day has become as much a part of English football as FA Cup Final Day, shameful as it is to admit.  The latest one did not disappoint the lovers of this unique occasion – Jim White holding court on Sky Sports News, big named players arriving in private jets, and 2 hour extension to allow the last few deals to go through.

But what actually happened? Manchester United were the big players in this transfer window, bringing in some stellar names – Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw.  The signing of Angel Di Maria broke the British transfer record at £59m, but the biggest scoop was attracting Radamel Falcao to the club with only minutes remaining.  Falcao and his agent have spent all Summer trying to attract the attention of Real Madrid, but when it became obvious they weren’t interested, he decided to accept the consolation prize of picking up £345,000 a week at Old Trafford.

Apart from over £150m worth of transfer fees, what also left Old Trafford was their reputation of being a club that wouldn’t ‘buy trophies‘ and that would always promote youth.  The signs were good when they appointed Louis Van Gaal, who has a record of elevating young players to the first team, and yet within 10 weeks he’d decided to forget all that and become the 5th highest spending Premier League manager of all time – quite some achievement, given what’s gone before!

Radamel Falcao Trophies

Will Radamel Falcao be the biggest coup of the Transfer Window?

So what of the other big clubs?  Arsenal brought in Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, and also Danny Welbeck, who was considered surplus to requirements at Manchester United.  Many Twitter wags were quick to pounce on the fact that he will be the only player in the Arsenal dressing room with a Premier League Winners Medal!!

Liverpool appeared to buy most of Southampton’s team – Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren.  They also added the new clown prince of British football – Mario Balotelli, so one way or another he will make Match of the Day more entertaining!  Slightly under the radar they picked up Alberto Moreno who looks capable of being a star turn from left back.

Manchester City were pretty quiet in their dealings, but with the talent already in their squad and the restrictions of Financial Fair Play, it’s probably little wonder they were quiet.

Chelsea were active quite early, picking up Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, who looks like providing the goals that they needed last year.  They still had time to let a few old favourites go, Ashley Cole left for Roma and Frank Lampard for a stint in the MLS.  To balance this out they brought another old favourite Didier Drogba back to the club.  Their final bit of business was to wave goodbye to the now usurped ‘most expensive player in British football’ Fernando Torres.  He’s decided to carry on missing from 5 yards in Milan rather than West London!

An awful lot of comings and goings, but we’ve got a long wait before we see how this will effect the destination of all the silverware!

 

Real Madrid Honour Alfredo Di Stefano with Trophy Display

Before last nights Spanish Super Cup First Leg against local rivals Athletic Madrid, Real paid tribute to club legend Alfredo Di Stefano who passed away last month.

The club organised a display of all the trophies he won whilst playing for Real Madrid.  He was also honoured with a huge number 9 shirt on the pitch and several banners in the stand.

Trophies

Alfredo Di Stefano with his some of his trophy haul

In total his collection of silverware included an incredible five European Cups, eight La Liga Trophies, two Ballon D’ors and five La Pichichi Trophies for being La Liga’s Top Goalscorer.

The man was an absolute legend at Real Madrid, and that feat won’t be matched there or anywhere else you wouldn’t think.

 

Team GB’s Top 5 medal hopes in Zurich

  1. Christine Ohuruogu

The reigning world champion begins her campaign for a European Gold this afternoon in the opening rounds of the 400m. Although she has admitted that her year’s break may not have been the best idea, she will go into the event as the favourite but does she have enough in her locker to go all the way? We feel that her absence from major competitions recently may cause her trouble, but hopefully she will prove the doubters wrong.

 

 

  1. Mo Farah

Mo is expected to run in both the 5,000m and the 10,000m in Zurich, giving him two chances to win a European medal and prove that he is back to fitness after pulling out of the Commonwealth Games.  The field in the 10,000m looks to be slightly weaker than that of his previous triumphs and it will be a slight disappointment if he doesn’t make the podium.

 Mo Farah

 

 

  1. Jodie Williams

Williams is currently ranked as Europe’s second best in the women’s 200m, behind Daphne Schippers of the Netherlands, and therefore is looking to win a medal this week. She will be looking to build on her Commonwealth silver and put her past injury worries behind her. Her form certainly looks good of late and she is a strong contender for a gold.

 

  1. Greg Rutherford

The challenge of being up against world champion Aleksandr Menkov is something that may spur Greg Rutherford on to beat his own personal best, something that he admits may be needed if he wants to come out on top in the long jump. It will be a tough test but we certainly expect Rutherford to finish with a medal in these Championships, we just have to hope it will be gold.

 

  1. Lynsey Sharp

One of Scotland’s brightest stars in Athletics, Lynsey Sharp, will be taking to the track just a couple of weeks after picking up a silver in the 800m in Glasgow. She set herself a big target at the Commonwealth games and was struck with illness just beforehand. Sharp will hope to put these worries, and the controversy over her medal behind her and finish with a European medal.

Van Gaal secures first trophy

International Champions Cup

 

 

He only took over the club at the beginning of July, but Louis Van Gaal has already secured his first trophy as Manchester United manager, and he will be hoping that this isn’t the only one this season.

Manchester United fans will remember that, just under a year ago, David Moyes got off to a trophy-winning start with victory in the Community Shield, which then turned out to be the only silverware of a very disappointing campaign.

This year, the red devils have started off the campaign by winning the International Champions Cup after beating rivals Liverpool 3-1 in Miami.

Wayne Rooney was handed the captains armband for the game, and he led by example, scoring the equaliser after his team’s underwhelming start to the game. Juan Mata then grabbed the second goal, before Jessie Lingard rounded off the victory and secured the cup.

United have looked impressive throughout this tournament, thrashing LA Galaxy before overcoming Roma and Inter Milan as well as Champions League winners Real Madrid.

Van Gaal will now be looking to build on this success by mounting a major title challenge this season.

England Leading The Way

To be quite honest, it’s not been a great summer for English sport has it? But finally it looks like we have something to cheer about!

 

Medal Table

 

At this current moment in time, England are leading the medal table at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, bypassing Australia’s total, as Greg Rutherford added a Commonwealth gold to his collection and Emma Pooley picked up a silver medal in the cycling yesterday, whilst today Jack Laughter won his second medal of the games, picking up the gold medal for the synchronised 3m springboard (along with Chris Mears).
It’s great news for British athletics and a host of other sports – with Scotland also appearing high up the table, giving promising signs for the upcoming European Championships as well the Olympics in 2014.

There are still 2 more days to go in the games, and therefore lots of chances for more medals to be won in a host of sports – so let’s hope we can finish the summer on a high!